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To Feel is to Be Human

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Exhaustion is defined as a state of extreme physical or mental fatigue.

Often caused by arduous work, sleep deprivation, emotional strain, or various medical conditions, or a combination of the four, it has severe and negative effects on the human body. Androids, however, were built for difficult work, did not require sleep, and have no medical concerns, only technical glitches and malfunctions. And it was only as of late that androids could feel the emotional strain brought upon by daily life and true sentience. So, Connor mused, he was most certainly not exhausted.

The stumble he took earlier in the precinct’s break room definitely was not caused by the human condition. The lack of focus he experienced during his meeting reading over proposed laws with Markus and North was not a direct result of his lack of sleep; androids don’t sleep. His inability to recall a previous conversation with Lieutenant Anderson was not because he was overworked and fatigued.

Androids do not sleep. Connor does not sleep. He was not tired.

Instead, Connor works. He works homicide with Hank by day and supports the revolution by night. He files reports, chases suspects, and interviews witnesses. He supports New Jericho’s leadership, learns how to repair androids, and attempts to make reparations with those he hunted. He walks Sumo, cooks Hank dinner, and cleans the house when he returns home, careful to discard any alcohol he might encounter. He trips over a book on the floor in the Lieutenant’s house and tries to laugh it off with the man guffawing from the couch.

“Holy shit, Con, I didn’t even know you could trip!”

Connor is a highly advanced prototype detective android with a superior gyroscope and state-of-the-art spatial sensors. He should not be able to trip.

He runs a diagnostic late at night during a rare quiet lull in his schedule.

{WARNING: POWER CELLS LOW - PLEASE REPORT TO CYBERLIFE FOR ASSISTANCE}

Connor is a highly advanced prototype detective android with rare parts and new technology. CyberLife was a now defunct company that destroyed all other RK800 models. They claimed it was to prevent companies or other interested parties from accessing blueprints, company secrets, or mission details from any of Connor’s other bodies and memory banks. He knew differently. He freed an army of androids and cost the company millions of dollars in a single move, and secured the revolutions freedom with his own freedom march through Detroit.

It was an act of revenge and he knew it would be a damning one, for both him and CyberLife.

{WARNING: TIME BEFORE SHUTDOWN: 189:34:03}

He was built to hunt deviants, assist the Detroit Police Department, and to save CyberLife from the deviant “threat.” He was allotted three months of beta testing following his alpha testing. Connor was one week away from turning one year old. RK800 #313 248 317 - 51 was never supposed to live.

It wasn’t enough time. He had a week left. Connor hasn’t had enough time. He only had a week left. He still wanted to solve cases, play with Sumo, tend and build up his aquarium. He still wanted to quip with Hank, spar with North, debate with Josh, laugh with Simon, be around Markus. His LED flashes an alarming crimson, illuminating the right side of his face in a deathly glow. He had just started to live and now he only had a week left.

It takes him six hours and fourteen minutes to move from his spot on the couch and force his LED back to yellow, then blue. Roused by motion and noise coming from Hank’s room, he sets about his day, preparing the man a breakfast of eggs and a side of bacon. He smiles at Hank and tells him good morning, only receiving a grunt in reply.

{Lieutenant Hank Anderson: Friend - Nonverbal Before 7AM}

{Please refrain from communicating until first caffeinated beverage is consumed}

Connor ignores the prompt from his social integration protocol and swallows unnecessarily before closing the warning still flashing in front of his eyes. “Hank?”

The man in question lowers his mug with a raised eyebrow, a glimmer of concern barely visible in tired, blue eyes at the android’s tone and faraway look, “Yeah kid?”

“I just… I just want to say thank you. For everything. Without you, I don’t think I would have ever gotten the chance to appreciate,” he makes a vague gesture with his hands, a slight pause before locking eyes with Hank, “This. Life. Living.”

Eyebrows furrow and the grizzled detective frowns, warning bells blaring through his head, “Are you okay, Connor? Somethin’ wrong?”

Connor could tell him. He could tell him everything right now. There is a 86% chance they would leave straight for New Jericho without informing Captain Fowler of their absence at work. Hank would be scared but he would try to hide it from Connor and there is a 89% he would ignore several traffic laws in his haste to find a solution. Markus, Josh, Simon, and North would likely search relentlessly for a solution while assuring the pair that it wasn’t hopeless, that they could save him.

The odds of finding or building power cells compatible with his model in the time he had left was 23%.

“Nothing, Lieutenant. I think I’m just feeling...sentimental?”

Hank rolls his eyes, though concern still lingers. “Fucking sappy android. It’s too early for this shit.”

He tries to ignore when he hits his hip on the corner of his desk at work and Gavin’s resulting laugh.

{WARNING: POWER CELLS LOW - PLEASE REPORT TO CYBERLIFE FOR ASSISTANCE}

{WARNING: TIME BEFORE SHUTDOWN: 181:29:54}

Lieutenant Anderson doesn’t miss the way his LED flashes red when the warning appears in his vision. He asks Connor about the color and the deviant RK800 assures him that he just received a minor damage report from the collision. It was nothing to be worried about. He only had a week left but he couldn’t make everyone worry about him. There wasn’t hope anyway, and it’d be easier for everyone around him. He only had a week left but there was nothing to worry about.

Markus was not so easily fooled.

Connor is at another meeting with the deviant leader, listening to the group bicker back and forth about a proposed amendment to the Constitution when he zones out of the conversation. It’s like he’s floating from his chair and sinking into it all at once, unaware he’s mentally digressed from the conversation. His processor slows down




and










{OPTICAL UNITS OFFLINE}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}














he’s











sinking









{TACTILE SENSORS PARTIALLY OFFLINE}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}

















deeper and deeper












{AUDITORY UNITS OFFLINE}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}
















like nothing is important















like nothing and everything is touching body all at once.








{SOCIAL INTEGRATION MODULE OFFLINE}

{FACIAL ANALYSIS MODULE OFFLINE}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}

{WARNING: POWER CELLS LOW - UPDATED TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 122:32:11}

{PLEASE REPORT TO CYBERLIFE FOR ASSISTANCE}










Until a hand falls on his shoulder and Connor is preconstructing six different ways to flip his attacker everything before his systems reboot and a pair of frantic mismatched eyes are only six inches from his own.

{OPTICAL UNITS ONLINE}

“-nor! Can you hear me?”

“I swear to rA9, Connor, you better respond right now!”

Voices are echoing around him, fading in and out, and Connor blinks owlishly as his systems sluggishly catch up. Markus is shaking his shoulders and he distantly notes that while his mouth is moving the sounds he are hearing are not quite matching up with the movement of Markus’ lips. Connor lets out an undignified “huuuh” as he blinks again, looking around the room to see North, Simon and Josh in front of him as well.

{AUDITORY UNITS ONLINE}

“Connor, answer if you can hear me,” Markus instructs as Connor’s eyes move back to his face.

He’s tired. He’s so tired and he just wants to go to sleep but androids don’t sleep, not even deviants. No matter how human he appears to be, he’s not he’s not he’s not he’s just a machine but he’s also so fucking exhausted. He now has less then a week left and it wasn’t enough time.

“I’m tired, Markus.”

All noise ceases abruptly, and Connor finds himself wondering if his auditory units went offline again. A quick check confirms that they haven’t, so he takes the silence as his cue to continue.

“I’m so tired. Androids aren’t supposed to feel tired but I just want to go to sleep,” Connor looks down at his hands and tries to ignore the slight static in the back of his head that just won’t go away, “I’m going to shutdown but I don’t want to go.”

It’s like a bomb goes off in the room. A flurry of activity sweeps Connor to repair bay where they run an extensive diagnostic. North holds his hand in solidarity while they attach the cable to the back of his neck, asking him what he wants for his birthday.

It’s not his birthday. He wasn’t born. If anything, Connor thinks it should be called his activation day, and either way, he knew he wasn’t going to live to see it.

“A dwarf gourami. While they are often called a community fish, they seem to do best when kept in species-only tanks as they tend to be aggressive with colorful fish, like my Siamese fighting fish. So I would require a new tank.”

They call Hank despite Connor’s protests, and despite the late hour, the man comes sprinting into his room, Sumo on his leash in one hand and a bag in the other. He studies the Lieutenant’s micro expressions but is unable to deduce exactly what the man is feeling due to his facial analysis systems running at half power to conserve energy. Connor opens his mouth to say something, anything, when Hank crosses the room and wraps the android in a rough embrace, “You fucking idiot, why the hell didn’t you tell me? Don’t worry, we’re gonna fix this. I promise, son.”

He stays in his room for the next four days at the head technicians orders while Josh and North search for compatible parts. Markus and Simon research building him a new one. Hank rarely leaves and tries to distract Connor despite his own exhaustion creeping in. The police lieutenant shares stories of his time at the academy, pausing whenever he zones out and continuing wherever he left off when he notices Connor’s awareness returning. Meanwhile, the little bit of news Markus brings is rarely good and Connor can only watch as the shutdown timer ticks closer to zero, unable to muster the energy to dismiss the notification.

{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN 92:57:12} is when his optical units stop processing color, throwing the world around him into a grayscale.

{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN 56:36:40} is when his social integration protocols shutdown, giving the android a sense of mood swings and confusion.

{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN 43:02:08} is when Josh and Simon admit defeat in their search, opting to contact Elijah Kamski instead.

{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN 41:01:01} is when Kamski informs them he can build a new set, but not in the time Connor has left. “There would be no guarantee the parts would be compatible anyway, Markus, but if you’d be so kind as to send me your blueprints thus far, I’ll see what I can do. Connor is the reason I still have the pleasure of Chloe’s company after all.”

{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 34:07:15} is when Connor sees a single tear fall from Hank’s eyes during a moment Hank thinks he is unaware of his surroundings.

{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 21:11:58} is when his auditory units shutdown, throwing the world into a shattering silence. Markus communicates whenever he can through an interface, although the connection tends to drop unexpectedly due to power fluctuations.  

{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 2:31:18} is when Connor diverts as much power as he can afford to his voice box and auditory units. “Hank?”

Immediately, the man is in Connor’s field of vision, eyes wide and face tight with an emotion he can’t quite define. Whether it’s due to the static or the shutdown of his facial analysis program, he’s no sure.

“It’s going to hurt for a while-”

“Don’t you fucking start taking like that, you hear me? I ain’t losing another kid-”

{Lieutenant Hank Anderson: ^Father}

Connor smiles at the notification but interrupts Hank nonetheless, “It’s going to hurt for a while, but I know you can get through it. You’ve taught me that the pain never really goes away, but you also taught me that I can learn to live with it. I lived with it and I know you can too.”

He takes a shuddering breath he doesn’t need as a spike of static shoots across his eyes, throwing the world into color before darkening it yet again, “Besides, Hank. Who else would take care of my fish and Sumo just as well as I do?”

{MESSAGE RECEIVED: RK200 - MARKUS}

{ERROR: UNABLE TO OPEN MESSAGE}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}

Hank ignores the buzzing on his phone, grabbing Connor’s limp hand instead. The synthetic skin flickers as it struggles to stay on despite the low power, and the temperature is noticeably lower than that of a human’s.

“Live with it for me because I won’t be able to,” Connor’s vision cuts out entirely as the drain on his systems become too much to bear, “It won’t hurt, Hank. It’ll be like going to sleep and I’m no scared anymore.”

{WARNING: UPDATED TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 6:28}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}

{PLEASE CONSERVE POWER}

Connor finally listens to the prompts and closes his unseeing eyes and shuts down what he can until he begins to feel untethered





















floating away




















{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 4:32}























he’s so tired but he can finally sleep














and know what it means to dream






























he could be more human than ever with his dreams





























{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 2:10}







































he wonders what he’ll dream about






















































he hopes Hank will be okay













he knows Markus would be eventually











{WARNING: TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 00:14}

{BIOCOMPONENTS #3546w, #3546v REMOVED}

{GOODNIGHT RK800}










{BIOCOMPONENTS #3546x, #3546y DETECTED}

{BIOCOMPONENTS COMPATIBLE}

{REBOOT (y/n?}

{SYSTEMS RESTARTING}

Chapter Text

The metal bat connecting with his throat should not have surprised him, but somehow, it did.

If Connor was human, the collision would have collapsed his trachea, broken several cervical vertebrae, and restricted blood flow to his brain. Death would have been inevitable, occuring in a couple of minutes, if not seconds. As it was, his ventilation components went temporarily offline, the synthetic skin flickered away, and his plastisteel chassis caved in slightly, thirium leaking from a small tear. He dismisses the damage alerts with a grimace as he falls, hand catching the bat as it descends on him again.

With inhuman strength, he rips the weapon out of the human suspect’s hands, swiping his legs out from under him as he does before forcing the man on his stomach, handcuffs already free from his belt. By the time Lieutenant Anderson rounds the corner, Connor is yanking the man to his feet, one hand rubbing at his throat as he does so. Blue eyes widen as he observes the damage to the android’s neck and Connor adds two new expressions to his databanks as Hank grabs the suspect and shoves him into Officer Miller’s patrol car, cursing the entire walk. “Fucking hell, Connor! I told you not to run off without me- hey, fuck off with that kicking shit asshole before I add ‘damaging government property’ to your charges,” Hank slams Chris’ door shut, nodding at the younger officer before returning his attention to Connor, “Christ...you okay, kid?”

He nods, opening his mouth to respond but Hank beats him to it while ushering him to the car, muttering something about “crazy, self-sacrificing terminators” and “getting you a fucking leash.”

“W̸̛h̸͢͟e̢͜r҉̧e͝͏̸̧͠ ̷̧͞͞a̴̧r͞e̸̴̶͘ ̨̨͢w̷̷͘͠e͜͢͠e̶̵̵͏ȩ͞ee͏̶̸ ̷͘g̸͡ơ̴͜i̵͘͢͜n̸͟͜g͜?͝͝”

Hank bangs his head on the door as he slides into the car while Connor flinches, grabbing at his burning throat as the static rips from his voice modulator. Connor’s gaze becomes unfocused as he runs a diagnostic as Hank simultaneously slams his door shut, heart rate elevated. “The fuck was that, Con?”

The android frowns as he reads the report, swallowing against the lingering discomfort from his damaged voice modulator, “I̴̡͞t ̸҉it̷ i͜ţ͜ ͡i̡͡t͜ ̡w̕͞ou͞l̢̛d̡͟͠ ̕a̕p͜͠p̕ęa̢͝r̢ th͏a̧͘t͢ ̵͢m̢y͝ v̴ơi̢͟c̨͜͜e̡͘͜ ͜͡m̶̛͢od̶͏ula̸̕t͜or ̴̛i͟s͜ dam͟a̷͡͞g͘e̢͡͡e̵e̵e͡e̸d.”

Hank winces as the static feedback reaches his ears while Connor rubs his throat, scowling as the modulator sparks and hiccups inside of his chassis, “Sounds like it hurts.”

“Į̴͞t͟ is̡ ̶͟i͘͠s̷͟ ̢i̢͢s͟ ̸̶s̷i̧͟͜m̷̧p̕͝ly̨y̷yy͏ ̶̡̛u̷͞nc̶o̸̢mf̛ort͜a̷͟b̕l̡̛e̴̵,̕ Ļ̷̶i̸͏̨e҉̴̕u̷t͘͟e̢͟n̶̕a͘n̵̵̶ţ.̧̨ And͜r̨oid͏̛s̵̨ ̵d̢͞o̸̡n̕͜͠'̸̨t f̶̴e͡e̸͜e̢̧͞e͟͠e̢͠͡eee̶͡e̶̵̸el ̧͞p͟a̢į̵͡n͠.̶͏͝”

Hank waves a dismissive hand, rolling his eyes despite the ringing in his ears from the shrill, metallic screech, “Yeah, that’s why you keep rubbing your throat, huh? And to answer your earlier question, we’re going to New Jericho to get you fixed up. Don’t think my toolbox is gonna cover that . You ain’t going to shutdown on me before then, right?”

“T̨͞he̡e̡͜͟e ͡d̶̸am̴̕aģe̕҉̷ ̷̶i͘͢͠s mi͢҉n̛ǫ̸ŗ̶͞,̨ H̢a̕n̴k͡. I̢'̷͢l̕l̸̨̡ ͏be̕ ̡͘͜f͏i̷̢̧i͟i̶i̶͠į͟n̵͏ę ̛u̴͞n͘͠t͠i̧͏l ̴͟t͏͘he̡͝҉n̡̨n͘͜͡n̴n̸̡.,” Connor forces his LED to switch from red to yellow after the flare of discomfort.

“Yeah, well, you better call Simon and let him know we’re coming. Unless your voice sounds like dial-up in your head, too,” Hank drags a hand down his face as he drives, a headache already forming behind his eyes.

Connor refrains from vocally answering, deigning to instead reach out to New Jericho’s head technician.

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED: PL600 - Simon}

{PL600: Hello, Connor. Is everything alright?}

Despite his situation, Connor smirks as his friend answers immediately, straight to the point as per usual. Like himself, Simon tended to be succinct, preferring frankness to small talk.

It did not mean they didn’t like teasing each other for it, however.

{RK800: Maybe I just wanted to chat, Simon. Why does something have to be wrong?}

{PL600: Because it’s you.}

If he closes his eyes, Connor can imagine Simon crossing his arms with a hint of a smile, both amused and annoyed by his antics.  

{RK800: Fair point. Biocomponent #2210c has been damaged and I require either repairs or replacement. Odds are favoring the possibility of replacement at this time.}

Sighs don’t carry across cybernetic communication links, but Connor imagines it nonetheless.

{PL600: You do realize we don’t have a lot of spare parts compatible with your model, right? I’ll see what I can find before you get here but I have no guarantees. Please try to refrain from talking until you arrive and I can take a good look at your throat. Is there any other damage I should know about?} 

{RK800: There is a slight thirium leak and my chassis has been dented.}

{PL600: I’ll be waiting. You know where to go.}

{RK800: Thank you, Simon.}

{CONNECTION ENDED}

“You know it’s really fucking creepy when you do that, right? It’s like you completely zone out,” Hank glances at Connor as he finishes, “You sure it doesn’t hurt? You keep rubbing at your throat.”

“I'̛l̸l҉ ͠ad҉m̢i͢t ͢t̵he ̢se̢n͡-sen-s̵eņs҉ati̛o͡n ̸i҉s҉ un-p̷le̢-͟pl̶e͠as͜a͢nt͢,” a hiccup steals his voice away before he can continue talking, and Connor’s analysis program kicks in, informing him of the smoke in his mouth.

{WARNING: BIOCOMPONENT #2210c DAMAGED - OVERCLOCK}

{PLEASE REPORT TO CYBERLIFE FOR REPAIRS}

{SHUTDOWN BIOCOMPONENT #2210c (y/n)?}

{y}

{ERROR: UNABLE TO INITIATE SHUTDOWN OF BIOCOMPONENT #2210c}

{PLEASE TRY AGAIN LATER}

Hank curses as smoke filters from Connor’s mouth, his LED glowing a startled scarlet, “I thought you said the damage was fucking minor .”

“M̸͜͠y m͟y҉̛͝ ̡̨my͝҉ ̧my̨ ̷m͢͠y͘ ̨̕̕m̢̛y ͞v͝v̧v҉v̛v҉o͜i͢͟c̡e̷ee̡ mod̡-m̴͠od̕͝u҉l҉͝a̡̛t̸̷͡or̨͘͞-̨tor̶ ̧̨͠is͢ ͡͠o҉͘vv̡v̸҉v̷̷e͢͡r͡c̷̢̨l̨o̵͟ooo͜cke͠d̴͢ ̵̨͡a̢͠ņ̸̶ņ̕d͞ ̧͝Į͢͜ ̶͟͝ç̴͜an͜'̷̶t͘ ҉̵ş͞hư̸u̧u͠ų͝t̸ i̕t ̶d͢͞oo͡o̕͡o̴̷̧w̴̵͝n,” Connor’s following wince is both metallic and hoarse, and Lieutenant Anderson’s cursing intensifies.

“Well stop fucking talking, dumbass, and keep your mouth shut. We’re almost there and I don’t wanna to get smoked out before we get there,” Hank’s voice is harsh, although worry lines his face, coming off  him in palpable waves.

“Y͞͡e̶̢͜͞s̕͟͠͝͞,̶̕͟͞͠ ͘͢L͠͡i͏͡e̸͡u̷̡t̢̛e͟͞n̷͟͜͠͝a̡͞n҉͡t͘͟.”

“The fuck did I just say,” Connor grasps at his throat, hoping that the physical pressure could ease the extreme discomfort and burning that stole his breath away, and Hank pushes harder on the gas, “We’re almost there, Con. Just hang on a bit longer for me, okay?”

{WARNING: BICOMPONENT #2210c DAMAGED - OVERCLOCK}

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^56%}

“H͘͘u͡u̴̧͘u̡͡rt҉̕s͏.”

“I know, Con. Can you go into stasis or whatever it is you do? Don’t want you writhing in pain if you don’t have to,” he winces at the harsh, computerized whine as Connor shakes his head no, “”Well shit. Try getting Simon back on, see if he can help from here. We’re still...10 minutes away.”

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED: PL600 - Simon}

{PL600: Connor? Is everything okay?}

{RK800: It hurts, Simon. My voice modulator is overclocked and I can’t shut it down and my stress levels are rising.}

{PL600: Is there any smoke?}

{RK800: Yes.}

{PL600: Shit. I’m going to call Lieutenant Anderson’s phone, I’m going to have to guide him in removing the biocomponent so you don’t overheat. Have him pull over and send me your location, I’m on my way.}

{CONNECTION ENDED}

“P̢̨̡͘u̴͝u̵̷̴͝͡u̧͏͟u҉҉ļ̢̛l̴̨͘ ̛͠o̢͟-͠o̴͟҉͝-̕͜o͘͡-̛҉ơ̶̕͞͡-̶̨͝͡o̵̡͜͠v̢͏̴̛e̸̕͡r̵̡͢,” is all he can manage before his stuttering modulator ends with a sharp whine, and Hank complies without question.

The phone resting in the Lieutenant’s pocket rings, and Hank answers with no preamble. If Simon was succinct, Hank was blunt, and when the pair collided, they made an interestingly efficient team, “What do I do, Simon?”

“Lay him down by the side of the road, you’re going to have to remove his voice modulator,” Simon’s voice carries over the speaker and Connor is already opening his door at the PL600’s words, sliding into a sitting position while leaning against the car.

He hears the car door slam, feels the vibrations from the jolt, and flinches at the extra stimuli grating on his already frayed nerves. “I’m going to have to do fucking what now?”

“Remove his voice modulator, Lieutenant. I assure you, it’s much simpler than it sounds,” Connor blinks, then opens his eyes to see Hank already crouched in front of him, the phone laying on the ground next to him.

“I’m not a goddamn technician, Simon, I can barely change the settings on my own phone,” Hank’s voice is rarely apprehensive, and Connor can’t help but think that it doesn’t quite suit the man.

“Hank. If his voice modulator stays in much longer, it can cause irreparable damage to the surrounding area, including the two main thirial lines. I’m only eight minutes away but you need to do this now.”

{WARNING: MAIN THIRIUM LINE COMPROMISED}

{WARNING: BICOMPONENT # 2210c DAMAGED - OVERCLOCKED}

Connor’s distress must show because Hank pauses before breathing deeply, “Okay, fuck, what do I do?”

“Press down hard on the middle of his throat and slide the panelling to the left. Connor mentioned it was damaged, so there might be some resistance. Don’t worry about making it worse, the plates are easy to fix.”

Hank presses firmly in the center of the damage and Connor tries to look him in the eyes as he does, doing anything he can to convey his confidence in the man. With a hiss and a click, the panel slides open, releasing thick, black smoke into the Lieutenant’s face. To his credit, Hank only barely flinches away, coughing as he peers through the haze into Connor’s inner mechanisms, “What am I looking for, Simon?”

“There is a small, black box, about an inch wide. Since it’s damaged, there should be a red light coming from it,” Simon’s voice is calm, steady, and it helps to soothe Connor’s nerves.

The RK800 recoils as fingers brush against the exposed wires of his voice modulator, something akin to itching overwhelming his sensors. Hank murmurs a soft apology, unusually gentle as he squeezes Connor’s shoulder, “How do I take it out?”

“Just give it a gentle pull and it should release from the port. There might be some tearing in the wires, but don’t worry about that. I’ll fix it all at New Jericho.”

He resists from flinching when Hank grabs the modulator, halting his breathing program to hold as still as possible while never taking his eyes off of him. Hank raises an eyebrow before straightening, “You ready, kiddo? I’m going to do it on three.”

“One.”

Connor digs his fingers into his jacket, running his hands across the fabric.

“Two.”

The hand on his shoulder squeezes tight and doesn’t let go.

“Three.”

{WARNING: BIOCOMPONENT #2210c REMOVED}

{PLEASE REPORT TO CYBERLIFE FOR ASSISTANCE}

When the part is removed, he gasps, or at least tries to, before sagging to the side as the pain abruptly disappears. Hank tosses the box with a yelp, grabbing the burn on his hand before catching the android before he can hit the ground.

There’s an overwhelming feeling of wrongness, of emptiness in his throat. There are exposed wires, thirium lines, and biocomponents and the paneling is too damaged to slide back. A slight slit in a minor thirium line still weakly oozes the blue liquid and warnings still flash across his vision, telling him to replace the biocomponent or report to CyberLife. Exhaustion floods his systems, making them sluggish and nearly unresponsive.

But the pain is finally gone and he couldn’t be more relieved.

{STRESS LEVELS v 30%}

{TEMPORARY STANDBY RECOMMENDED}

{WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED (y/n)?}

“Is it out, Lieutenant,” Simon’s voice breaks through Connor’s haze, as does Hank’s hand lightly slapping his cheek.

“Yeah, it’s out. He looks pretty out of it though.”

“Good, that’s good. It means his stress levels have decreased and he’s no longer in any danger. Connor, if you can hear me, I need you to go into standby. You’ll be repaired by the time you wake up.

{WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED (y/n)?}

Brown eyes blink owlishly as they study Hank, attempting to express his gratitude. When that seems to fail, the prototype android instead lifts his hands toward his mouth with a flat hand, touching his lips before moving it forward toward his work partner. Thank you. The human just grins and ruffles Connor’s hair, “You’re welcome, kid. Just go to sleep, Simon will be here soon and we’ll fix you up good. Maybe get you a less goofy voice.”

Connor smiles and closes his eyes, letting his head fall on Hank’s shoulder.

{WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED (y/n)?}

{y}

{ENTERING STANDBY} 

{3}

 

{2}

 

{1}

Chapter Text

It was cold.

There is nothing but white swirling around him, blinding him in a colorless static. His arms are crossed, rubbing at his shivering form, vainly trying to produce more heat to dispel the frost that seemed to settle in his artificial limbs. He’s shaking, synthetic teeth clacking as quickly as his red LED spins and he can’t warm up, his diagnostic reports his temperature is ideal so why can’t he warm up?

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^95}

Connor could turn off his ventilation programs; it acts as a tertiary cooling system and shutting it down would increase his core temperature by 5%.

He stops breathing.

His temperature increases by half a degree and will be up 3.25 degrees more by the end of the hour.

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS v93%}

It’s not enough. He is not equipped with olfactory sensors but the smell of dying roses is wafting through the air and he can feel disapproval wafting through the frigid air, coming off the blizzard in palpable waves. He can vaguely hear a gruff voice calling his name, unable to fully break through the haze of his distress, through the woman’s voice whispering in his ear. If he could just warm up more, he could break free, he could get out.

Connor could close a circuit breaker and allow the full electrical current through his CPU, increasing his temperature by 2%, nearly two degrees.

He shuts the breaker and a rush goes through his head, heightening his awareness and lowering the fog that clouded his mind.

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS v88%}

“-nor? Fucking answer me, goddamnit!”

Connor blinks, and the blizzard is no longer suffocating him, trapping him in his frozen mind palace, although the shivering remains. He’s still cold, he shouldn’t feel this cold in this temperature, and he can’t stand it, it’s too much, but Hank is in front of him. Blue eyes lined with worry, hands grabbing the android’s shoulders, his words finally reaching Connor’s ears.

“Talk to me, kid, you’re redringing. What’s going on with ya?”

“Ha-aank,” his voice modulator stutters from the lack of air that normally cools the component.

“What’s going on, Con? Are you hurt,” Lieutenant Anderson’s already ushering him toward the car before he’s aware he’s even moving, away from the crime scene they had been about to investigate.

“I’m undamaged, Lieutenant,” Connor clears the static in his voice and blinks away the warnings about his stress levels and core temperature. He is a highly advanced detective android, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and combat protocols. If he could just keep warm, he could easily investigate and solve this case.

Something as simple as falling snow shouldn’t be able to stop him.

It would not stop him.

He digs in his feet to stop Hank and forces the shivers away, increasing his thirium pump’s beat to further up his temperature, “It was a minor malfunction, I assure you. I’ve already taken care of the problem and can continue with the investigation.”

It’s not a complete lie, he tells himself. Androids, while capable of experiencing human emotion, are not human. The panic he felt, the auditory and visual hallucinations were errors in his code, and by increasing his temperature, the errors lessened and would eventually abate completely. It was just a malfunction and he fixed it.

That’s all it was.

Hank is jerked back at Connor’s sudden stop and he stares at the RK800 with disbelief evident in his expression. “Bull-fucking-shit, Connor. I’m a fucking detective, you can’t lie to me. Try again.”

Connor forces his LED back to blue, ignoring the way his systems alert him of his elevated thirium pressure and temperature, opting to use the more “human” approach that often put the older man at ease. “It’s okay, Hank. I’m fine now.”

He’s alright now, his stress levels were decreasing by the second and the self-assigned objective buzzes in his visual feed like a neon sign.

{INVESTIGATE CASE - EXAMINE THE BODY}

He is fine. His processors are slowed and there’s a faint hum emanating from his cooling fans but he is perfectly functional. Hank still looks unconvinced but Connor estimates that there is a 76% chance that he would allow Connor to continue the investigation. The rest of the precinct was overwhelmed, after all, following the revolution and the subsequent rise of android rights. On top of human crimes, they had to deal with android crimes as well, and there was no other detective duo available for investigating. “Shit. Fine. Just,” Hank takes a steadying breath, “Just know that you’re telling me what the hell that was all about, okay?”

“Of course, Lieutenant.”

Hank sighs again and Connor takes that as he cue to turn around and head back to the crime scene, snow crunching beneath his dress shoes. He suppresses another shiver as a cold gust sweeps a flurry of snow past him.

He turns off his temperature regulator, hoping it would bring more warmth.

{WARNING: INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 100.2°F}

{RECOMMENDED INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 95°F}

{PLEASE IMPLEMENT COOLING MEASURES TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO SYSTEMS}

He blinks away the warning, opting to instead kneel in front of the body. A PJ500, not dissimilar in appearance to Josh, with a single stab wound to the thirium pump. He scans the body, allowing the analytical part of his mind to take over, increasing power to his CPU despite the wave of dizziness that washes over him.

His scans reveal that the android’s name was registered Michael that currently worked at the elementary school he taught at before the revolution. The angle and depth of the stab wound, as well as the partial fingerprint on the plastisteel chassis, indicated that he was killed by a 6’1 human male. A closer look reveals a hint of red blood on the android’s knuckles, indicating he fought back against his attacker, breaking the skin. However, neither the partial print nor minute amount of blood would be enough for him to name to suspect. He moves to stand, intent on searching for the murder weapon or another hint to the killer’s identity when another wave of dizziness crashes into him, forcing him to shoot a hand out to catch himself as his vision momentarily fades.

{WARNING: INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 102.4°}

{RECOMMENDED INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 95°F}

{PLEASE IMPLEMENT COOLING MEASURES TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO SYSTEMS}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION - RESUME TEMPERATURE REGULATOR FUNCTION}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION - RESUME SECONDARY AND TERTIARY COOLING MEASURES}

{WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED (y/n)?}

{n}

{ODDS OF SYSTEMS DAMAGE: 54%}

Strong hands, one on his chest and the other on his back, steady him, and Connor closes his eyes against the onslaught of vertigo. He can feel the burning of his LED spinning against his temple, the red light shining through closed eyes. He knows he should feel like he is burning from the inside out. And distantly, he feels like he is even if he still feels cold, like lice is snaking through his veins pulling him to the garden.

He should be panting for cool air at this internal temperature and rubbing snow on the base of his neck to preserve his most sensitive processor. Instead, he pushes the prompts to restart his cooling measures away. “Jesus Christ, Con, you’re burning up! Can androids even get fevers?”

Connor shakes his head and opens his eyes as the dizziness passes, letting Hank pull him to his feet, “I’m okay, Lieutenant. I’m okay.”

Hank is incredulous, Connor’s facial scans cheerfully inform him in CyberLife Sans. “The fuck you are, you nearly burnt a hole through my hand. We need to cool you down.”

Hank drags him back to the car shouting at the attending officer to close the scene and expect their official reports later, and Connor grimaces as his vision blurs again, optical units unable to keep up with the speed at which they are moving. The Lieutenant yanks the passenger door open, pushing the android into the car to sit, facing the outside, before kneeling in front of him. “You’re redringing again, and don’t tell me this is another fucking ‘malfunction,’ I’m not that inept with technology. Fuck, are you even breathing right now?”

Connor sighs and puts his face in his hands, unwilling to meet Hank’s s pointed gaze. “I’m cold, Hank.”

{WARNING: GYROSCOPE OFFLINE}

{WARNING: MAIN THIRIUM LINES COMPROMISED BY HEAT DAMAGE}

{WARNING: INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 104.5°}

{RECOMMENDED INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 95°F}

{PLEASE IMPLEMENT COOLING MEASURES TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO SYSTEMS}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION - RESUME TEMPERATURE REGULATOR FUNCTION}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION - RESUME SECONDARY AND TERTIARY COOLING MEASURES}

{WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED (y/n)?}

He looks up but refuses to make eye contact with the man in front of him while pointedly ignoring the slight drip of thirium from his nose. “I know I need to cool off, but…”

Hank’s eyes widen at the blue blood leaking down Connor’s face and he reaches into his pocket to grab a tissue. He hands it to the deviant android before lowering his voice, using a soft, gentle tone with him, “But what, son?”

Connor automatically presses the tissue to the bleeding, despite knowing it wouldn’t stem the flow, “But I was cold and...the snow...I heard Amanda, Hank, and I felt like I was back in the Zen Garden. I could only calm down once I increased my temperature and...I think I’m scared? Scared of lowering it again.”

Lieutenant Anderson pinches the bridge of his nose and closes his eyes, anger briefly flashing across his features. Connor had told him about the Zen Garden and his AI handler the day after the revolution after a panic attack had left him shaking on the couch, holding Sumo tight while muttering about ‘not wanting to shoot Markus’ and ‘still being a machine.’ “I’m going to fucking murder those bastards...Connor, look at me.”

His hand lightly taps the side of Connor’s face, making brown irises meet blue. “CyberLife can’t touch you anymore. Amanda can’t touch you. You’re safe with me and I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I fucking swear it, they’d have to go through me and Markus and Simon and North and Josh first, you hear me?”

Connor nods weakly, noting the decrease in his stress levels as Hank speaks to him in a calming tone.

“I want you to do what you can to cool down, and I’ll take you to New Jericho. Then we’ll go home and you can teach me all of the fucking coin tricks you want, got it?”

“Got it.”

“You’re going to be alright kid. We’re going to be alright.”

Hank pats Connor’s knee before rising to his feet, heading toward the driver’s side.

{WARNING: INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 104.8°}

{RECOMMENDED INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 95°F}

{PLEASE IMPLEMENT COOLING MEASURES TO PREVENT DAMAGE TO SYSTEMS}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION - RESUME TEMPERATURE REGULATOR FUNCTION}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION - RESUME SECONDARY AND TERTIARY COOLING MEASURES}

{WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED (y/n)?}

{y}

{TEMPERATURE REGULATOR ONLINE}

{VENTILATION BIOCOMPONENTS ONLINE}

{CIRCUIT BREAKERS CORRECTED}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION: SEEK COOLER ENVIRONMENT, RECALIBRATE GYROSCOPE}

Connor leans his forehead against the cool glass of the window as his breathing resumes and the sound of panting fills the silence of the car. He closes his eyes as the snow intensifies outside.

“We’re going to be alright, son.”

“I know, Hank.”

Chapter Text

The first incident lasts 15 seconds.

Connor had been coaching Markus through negotiation tactics in light of their recent invitation to Washington D.C. when he freezes mid-sentence. His LED turns a solid crimson with no warning, his fingers tapping against his legs with no rhythm or purpose. His mouth slightly open and gaze blank, the RK800 suddenly becomes unresponsive to the world around him.

He doesn’t hear Markus calling his name.

He doesn’t feel Markus’ hand on his shoulder.

He doesn’t notice when Markus tries to interface with him, only to be met with an error message.

He only notices that Markus is suddenly very close to him with a pressure on his shoulder, and the sentence he was continuing trails off, blinking once at the sudden change. “Markus?”

“Connor, are you okay,” the deviant leader's face is awash with concern that wasn't there a moment ago.

He's shaking his head, because of course he is, why wouldn't he be? He voices as much, and the concern transforms to disbelief, eyebrows furrowing. A quick scan tells Connor that Markus’ stress levels have jumped by 5% at his words, bringing it to a solid 20%. The RK200 was the leader of an entire, new intelligent species, navigating in a world where there was no solid precedent for their situation. His stress levels constantly fluctuated between 20% and 30% as a result. However, this week had been calm, and a sudden jump was near inexplicable. Had he received a message that Connor hadn’t? Had a glitch in Markus’ systems occurred?

“You were completely unresponsive for 15 seconds, Connor. Your LED was red and I couldn't connect with you.”

It's Connor's turn to be filled with disbelief. That wasn't right, all of his systems were nominal and his self-diagnostic last night proved it. Then again, he couldn't recall when Markus had gotten so close. He glances at the hand on his shoulder, which the older android suddenly pulls off, almost self-consciously.

He blinks as he runs another diagnostic and checks his internal clock, reading through the results. Everything came back normal, just as it had last night, but his internal clock confirms Markus’ claim. “I...was offline for 15 seconds?”

Markus nods slowly with a tilt to his head and he reaches out a hand questioningly, the skin retracting from his palm. Connor only hesitates for a fraction of a second before reaching his own hand out, accepting the connection request.

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED: RK200 - Markus}

{RK200: I’m just going to look through your memories and run a diagnostic, is that okay?}

{RK800: That’s okay.}

{MEMORY LOGS ACCESSED: 180239 12:45:09pm - PERMISSION GRANTED RK200}

A memory flashes across his vision; a conversation they had just minutes ago replaying in his mind. They’re talking about different senators and possible ways to sway them to the deviants’ cause when the glitch occurs. Static creeps into Connor’s vision at 12:45:14pm before cutting to black completely.

{RK200: Did you notice the static distorting your vision?}

{RK800: I don’t remember seeing any. I don’t remember any part of the interruption. In my mind, I never stopped talking to you.}

{MEMORY LOGS ACCESSED 180239 12:45:14pm - PERMISSION GRANTED RK200}

{ERROR: MEMORY LOGS NOT FOUND - WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY AGAIN (y/n)?}

{y - USER RK200}

{ERROR: MEMORY LOGS NOT FOUND}

{NEXT AVAILABLE MEMORY LOG: 180239 12:45:29pm}

{MEMORY LOGS ACCESSED: 180239 12:45:29pm - PERMISSION GRANTED RK200}

Connor watches as he continues his sentence where he left off, the sudden closeness of Markus jarring him and the surprise echoes second hand across their connection, as does Markus’ own surprise. He hears himself say Markus’ name and the memory abruptly falls away

{RK200: I’m going to run a diagnostic now.}

He sends a faint acknowledgement across the interface, watching as the diagnostic scrolls across his HUD.

{DIAGNOSTIC COMMENCING - PERMISSION GRANTED RK200}

{CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS: OK}

{CHECKING BIOSENSORS: OK}

{CHECKING OS: OK}

{CHECKING AI ENGINE: OK}

{NO ABNORMALITIES DETECTED}

{ALL SYSTEMS OPERATIONAL}

{RK200: Whatever it was, everything seems fine now. With your permission, I’d like to try one more thing.}

{RK800: What did you want to see?}

{RK200: I wanted to run through your memory logs and see if you have any other missing memory files. I promise I won’t look at anything you don’t want me to see but I need to know if this has happened before, and if so, if it is a common occurrence.}

Connor squeezes his eyes shut. Time and time again, he has had his memory looked through and analyzed by CyberLife and technicians, and never with his permission. As a machine, he didn’t care - no, wait. That was a lie. Every single time cold, gloved hands touched his LED and snaked a cable to his neck, every time Amanda watched his memories before his reports, he felt a spark of something shine through the cold apathy of his obedience. Before, he registered it as a fault in his code, as a software instability that had to be torn down and fixed. Now, he knew the proper name for it; dread.

{RK200: Connor, you know I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t feel like it was important.}

He could say no. He was allowed that now. But the logical part of his mind reasoned that everything Markus was saying was true. He needed to know if this has happened before and if it would happen again. In his line of work, one such episode could mean the difference between life or death, and not just for him. Lieutenant Anderson could pay the price if he slipped, as could Markus or North or Simon or Josh.

Besides, Markus is his friend. He’d never hurt him and he wouldn’t be searching through his memories with a judgmental eye; he’d be searching for missing files and nothing more.

Connor takes an unnecessary breath before answering, grateful for Markus’ quiet patience as he waits for the younger RK model’s answer.

{RK800: Go ahead.}

{MEMORY LOGS SEARCH - PERMISSION GRANTED RK200}

{SEARCH: MISSING MEMORY FILES FOLLOWING 111138}

{SEARCHING…}

{23 RESULTS FOUND}

If he was human, his heart would have skipped a beat. There had been 23 occasions where he has been completely unresponsive, lost in an ‘episode’ that he had no idea existed. He pulls his hand away from Markus’ warm grasp, schooling his features into neutrality when he notices the man watching him with an analytical eye. No doubt the RK200 was watching him for any signs of stress while looking for an explanation. “I’m okay, Markus.”

A hint of a fond smile graces Markus’ lips as he crosses his arms, “That’s what you said the last time you had a glitch. The next thing I knew, you were being dragged into New Jericho’s medical bay by one very upset Lieutenant Anderson.”

Connor’s tense posture relaxes at Markus’ teasing words even as his social integration protocols kick in.

{DEFLECTING JOKE: Meant to relax subject and distract them from an item or topic of concern. Commonly used by doctors, nurses, therapists and other members of mental/physical healthcare}

He dismisses the notification, not bothering to read it fully. “Hank may have overreacted. It was a minor glitch at most.”

Markus’ answer is deadpan, although the amused glint in his eyes is anything but serious, “We had to replace your thirium pump regulator because your systems decided it was incompatible,” he sighs, looking down while rubbing the back of his head before looking back up to meet Connor’s eyes, “Let me take you home at the very least. I’ll tell Hank what’s going on so he can watch you until Simon and Josh come back from Vancouver tonight. Then, they can search through your coding more thoroughly than I can and fix whatever’s wrong.”

Connor opens his mouth to protest, that he can take care of himself when Markus raises a hand, silencing him before he can speak. “It’ll put my mind at ease. Consider it a favor.”

That asshole. He resists the urge to roll his eyes at Markus’ obvious plea to Connor’s conscious and instead acquiesces, falling into easy conversation with the man as Markus leads them out the door toward New Jericho’s entrance, cybernetically hailing a taxi as they do so.

Thirty minutes later, they find themselves outside the Lieutenant’s door as a gentle snow begins to fall, blanketing the world in a peaceful silence, despite the blaring music of Knights of the Black Death audible from behind the closed door. Markus raises an eyebrow at Connor, to which he shrugs before grabbing the doorknob, “You might want to turn down your audio sensitivity. The Lieutenant is not one for classical music.”

Markus chuckles, “Why am I not surprised?”

Connor turns the doorknob to be greeted by the sight of one Hank Anderson cursing as he rearranges the furniture, sweat dripping from his brown. The RK800 crosses his arms as he takes in the changes Hank made to the living room, connecting with the speakers to turn them down to a more reasonable level. This earns another curse from the man as he glances to the entryway. “Fucking hell, Connor. How many times have I told you not to hack my wiretaps?”

Connor frowns at the expression, “I can assure you, Lieutenant, that your bluetooth devices are not wiretaps-”

“Millennial humor, google it. Hey Markus.”

“Hello Lieutenant Ander-”

“Hank. Bad enough that Connor calls me ‘Lieutenant’ all the time,” Hank wipes the sweat from his eyes before gesturing to the newly arranged furniture, “What do y’all think?”

Connor releases a sly smile before looking around the living room, accessing his databanks as he does so, “I believe this arrangement will have a rather...negative effect on your mental health. Studies have shown that facing your furniture toward the doorway will help you to feel calmer and more relaxed by providing with a constant vi-”

Hank groans, “Oh what, now you’re an interior decorator, is that it?”

“Perhaps if you would stop interrupting us, I’d tell you.”

“Asshole,” Hank mutters as Markus chuckles again at the banter between the two, drawing the detective’s attention, “So what do I owe the pleasure, Mr. President of the Androids?”

Markus ignores the nickname, patting Sumo on the head as he lumbers toward Connor. “I just wanted to let you know that something happened to Connor at New Jericho.”

Hank’s face immediately grows suspicious, and he glances at at the android in question who is reaching down to pet Sumo, freezing at Markus’ words. “The fuck you mean, something happened?”

“He seems fine now, but he just...froze in the middle of our conversation. Became completely unresponsive. It only lasted 15 seconds and then he started again like he never stopped. He didn’t even know it happened.”

“It sounds like something that used to happen to my friend when she was a kid. ‘Absence seizures’ or something like that,” Hank’s gaze is thoughtful until he hears Sumo whining and he returns his attention to Connor, who hasn’t moved, except to tap his fingers against his leg.

“I looked through Connor’s memory files and found 23 missing files, all lasting anywhere between 10 seconds to a minute,” Markus follows Hank’s gaze, trailing off as he does so.

“Connor?” Hank’s voice is concerned, the gruffness that previously dominated his tone gone. Connor doesn’t acknowledge Hank or the whining Saint Bernard nuzzling his hip, LED glowing a harsh red against his temple, “Con, can you hear me?”

At the lack of response from the android, Markus walks forward, the skin from his hand already gone as he tries to connect with the catatonic android. He frowns as he receives an error message preventing him from connecting. “It’s like he’s not even there…,” he murmurs softly, “We should wait it out. These don’t seem to last long, and I already notified Simon and Josh. They’ll arrive later tonight and will be able to do a more thorough examination than I can.”

So they wait as 15 seconds becomes thirty. Thirty seconds turn into a minute and Markus can feel the beginnings of worry crawling its way into his stomach. After a minute and a half, Connor’s eyes start blinking rapidly in pace with his spinning LED and Markus attempts to interface again. “I thought you said these don’t fucking last long, Markus.”

“All the incidents I could find only lasted a few seconds...he should already be out of it. Here, help me move him to the couch, I don’t want him accidentally falling over.”

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED: PL600 - Simon}

{PL600: Markus? Is everything okay?}

Markus attempts to lift Connor off the ground, only to be met with stiff, uncooperative limbs. After some manipulating, he and Hank manage to lift the RK800 and lay him down on the couch.

{RK200: It’s Connor. He’s frozen and I can’t connect with him. It’s the second time this has happened today.}

{PL600: Are his fingers tapping?}

{RK200: Yes, how did you know?}

{PL600: We’ve seen this in a few prototypes, they have lines of unfinished code that causes them to freeze whenever they run into it. How long has he been unresponsive?}

{RK800: Five minutes. It doesn’t show any signs of stopping.}

{PL600: Let me know if it passes 15 minutes. At that point, you’d have to force a hard reboot to bring him back. Josh is searching for an earlier flight back to Detroit.}

Markus pulls his hand from Connor’s shoulder and rests it on his head instead, sliding down to sit in front of the couch. Hank goes to the hallway and returns with a blanket, which he uses to tuck the android in, bringing a soft smile to Markus’ face despite the situation.

{PL600: Don’t worry, Markus. It’s an easy fix. I’ll bring the equipment from New Jericho so he can be at home when it happens.}

{RK200: Thank you, Simon.}

{CONNECTION ENDED}

“Simon tells me it should be an easy fix. He and Josh are trying to catch an earlier flight to Detroit,” Markus informs the Lieutenant.

Hank grunts in response before tucking the stray fringe of hair behind Connor’s ear, “Damn kid is the nicest fucking person. Not fair that he has to go through so much shit.”

“I share the same sentiment, Hank,” Markus checks his internal clock and sighs as it ticks ever closes toward 15 minutes, “If this goes on for any longer, I’m going to have to force a hard reboot. He would hate that.”

“You’re gonna have to explain that one to me,” Hank’s voice is tired as he settles into the recliner, keeping a watchful eye over the android.

“It’s like waking a human up from anesthesia, except Connor has a bad reaction to it. He’ll process things slower and several programs will be turned off during the reboot. It almost always causes a panic attack in him,” Markus pauses as the tapping stops suddenly and Connor’s arm reaches out.

He watches as the android frowns in confusion, his LED switching to a distressed yellow before sighing. “It happened again.”

It’s not a question. Markus feels his heart clench at the frustration evident in Connor’s voice and he stands up to give him some space. Connor doesn’t rise from his prone position on the couch, although he does look at Hank when he observes the blanket wrapped around him, “I’m sorry, Hank.”

Hank takes a deep breath through his nose, “Nothing to apologize for, kid. Ain’t your fault. Blame the pricks at CyberLife for not bothering to finish your code.”

“My code?” Connor looks to Markus for an explanation even as the deviant leader sends an update to Josh and Simon.

“I talked to Simon. He said it’s a problem it prototypes caused by an unfinished code somewhere in your software. He and Josh will be here tonight with the tools to fix it.”

Connor pulls an arm from under the blanket to pat against his chest. Sumo needs no further invitation before jumping on top of the RK800, nearly burying him in a mass of fur. Markus supposes if he was human, he would have to worry about Connor suffocating. Instead, he smiles at the glimpse into Connor’s life, grateful for the rare peek. “Thank you, Markus,” his voice is somewhat muffled by the giant dog, but the appreciation is clear, as is the hint of embarrassment.

“Don’t worry about it, Connor. Let’s call it a thanks for everything you’ve done for us.”

Hank reaches for the remote, turning on the TV, “Shit happens, son. Try not to worry about it until Simon and Josh get here. You got any suggestions on what to watch?”

Markus smiles as Connor’s LED switches to a calm blue as he connects with the television, the show switching from the news to an aquatic documentary. He cybernetically cancels his remaining appointments for the day and settles by Connor’s feet, settling in as Hank tosses a thirium pouch at him.

Connor would be alright. He always was.

Chapter Text

Everything started when Connor connected with the tablet meant for Markus, and it went downhill from there.

North was leaning against the wall of the meeting room, arms crossed and eyes thunderous with an all encompassing rage, daring anyone to break to break the silence. Josh was pacing while watching the door, waiting for the human cybernetic analyst to return. Simon sat in an office chair, idly swaying the chair left and right with his fingers steepled in his lap. Markus sits next to Connor’s prone body with a hand resting on his forehead, not even daring to open a connection with the catatonic RK800.

It killed him inside not knowing Connor’s condition, or what triggered it. But they could not afford to risk opening themselves to whatever had caused him to collapse so suddenly, so violently before becoming completely unresponsive. Not when they had an entire people to lead. Not when Connor would be guilt ridden should anything happen to them.

It was too late for Markus’ conscience, however. The tablet had been meant for him, after all. This was a targeted attack on him, that much was clear, and now Connor was paying the price for it. Every time he closes his eyes, he sees the collapse playing over and over again, almost as if the memory file was stuck on a feedback loop. Connor’s pale skin retracting from his palm, the sudden red glow from both his hand and LED. Brown eyes rolling into the back of his head, knees buckling, falling too quickly for anyone to catch him. The sound the plastisteel made as he hit the floor. Even if he didn’t have a perfect memory, Markus knew he’d never forget that moment

“I don’t like standing around and doing nothing, Markus. We don’t even know if Connor has time for us to sit on our asses and wait for something to happen,” North’s voice is sharp, cutting through to Markus’ very core.

Markus just sighs, pressing a hand to his forehead as he waits for Josh’s inevitable response. In the hour since the analyst left with the tablet, they’ve had the same conversation three times. “We can’t take any risks before we even know what’s going on. We don’t have any choice but to wait.”

“I don’t want to hear anymore. We wait for the analyst to come back,” Markus raises his palm when North opens her mouth to reply, “I agree we can’t afford to wait but we can’t help Connor if what happened to him happens to us.”

North purses her lips, letting her arms fall to her sides as she looks at Connor, “It’s not right.”

Simon glances up and he scans Connor yet again, trying to get a hint as to his affliction, “He’s stable, thirium pump is operating within acceptable parameters. But that’s all I can get from him. I can’t even tell what his stress levels are.”

“If that human takes any longer, I’m going to go down there and scan the tablet myself, consequences be damned. You know he’d do it for us,” the WR400 walks over to Markus’ side and takes one of Connor’s hands.

Of all the androids in New Jericho, Markus had expected North the least to become Connor’s best friend. She had always been protective of their people, even to a fault, and had wanted to turn away androids she perceived as being on “the human’s side” during the week of the revolution, notably with John. But when North saw Connor sequester himself away from the other androids in the church, guilt hunching his shoulders, it appeared she made Connor her new mission. The following days after the revolution, she had quite literally dragged the RK800 to their meetings, making him a permanent staple in New Jericho. A week later, she ambushed him with an antique NERF gun she managed to find only rA9 knows where, and the pair had been inseparable since. They were close friends, feeding into each other’s excitement, often at Markus’ expense.

It showed now in the concern softening her features and her elevated stress levels. “And you know he wouldn’t want you to do that, North. Give her a few more minutes.”

As if on cue, the analyst returns with the pad in hand, sweat beading her brow. North stands abruptly, fixing the woman with a sharp glare and crossing her arms yet again. “We found it. It’s ransomware with a boot sector and encryption virus attached, but it should be safe for you to connect with now. The virus was programmed for one time use.”

Markus raises an eyebrow, reaching a hand out for the tablet and grabbing it from the analyst. “Ransomware? What’s the demand,” Simon asks, his expression puzzled.

Markus connects with the tablet, finding only one document contained within. “Thank you, Mandy. I’ll call you if we need any more help,” the group waits for the door to close behind her before gathering around the RK200, “It’s from the anti-android group, the Krasnaya Krov.”

“Those guys again? I thought Connor and Lieutenant Anderson arrested their ringleader,” Josh chimes in, looking to Markus for confirmation.

“They did. They’re demanding his release, along with a plane. This says once they’re out of the country, the ransomware will give the order for the virus to decrypt his running configurations and the viruses will self-destruct,” Markus reads, his eyes blinking left and right as he processes the information.

North snorts in disbelief, “They were targeting you, Markus. You really think that once they get what they want, they’ll just send the order?”

“I have to agree with North, Markus. If you were the target, they’d never let your programs resume function,” Simon presses two fingers to Connor’s swirling, crimson LED, running a diagnostic now that he knows it’s safe, “Mandy was right; his running configs are encrypted and all processors are stalled. Whoever wrote the code did a good job. It could takes months, if not years, to decrypt this.”

“Is it safe to move him,” Markus asks, moving his hand from Connor’s forehead to grab the tablet with both hands, staring at the demands listed on the screen.

Simon nods, “Nothing was damaged in the fall and he’s stable.”

Markus hands the tablet to North before reaching down to pull Connor into his arms. “North, I need you to find Hank and tell him what’s happened while Simon and I take Connor to the recovery wing. Josh, go with her and see if you can’t convince Captain Fowler to set up a meeting with their leader.”

“Don’t tell me you’re seriously considering giving them what they want. You know they’ll never hold up their end,” North scans through the ransom letter cybernetically, looking up to Markus with incredulity clear on her face.

Markus smiles for the first time since Connor’s collapse. “I didn’t say I wanted to meet with him. Make Connor proud and use those ‘negotiation skills’ he taught you. Use me as the wildcard, convince him it didn’t work, and force him to give us the key.”

North returns his smile with a grin, “That’s the best idea you’ve had all week.”


“Thank you, Lieutenant Anderson. Please keep me updated.”

Markus disconnects from the call with a sigh before palming the lock to Connor’s room, closing the door behind him with a gentle swish. He watches Simon type away on the keyboard, his gaze following the cable that leads from the cable to the back of the RK800’s neck. Connor lies prone on the cot, his head turned to the side to allow the cable access. Markus can’t see his LED, but he knows it’s an unwavering scarlet. He’s still, not even breathing, and Markus finds himself looking away. Normally the android was constantly moving, from dancing his coin across his knuckles to tapping his feet and everything in between. To see him so motionless was disturbing; he looked like he had shutdown. “Any news?” Simon glances up from his computer screen, never pausing in his typing.

“North and Josh are in with Ulan Petrov and his lawyers now. The lieutenant is with them. How about you?”

Simon shakes his head frowning, “Like I said earlier; these guys knew what they were doing. In any other circumstance, I’d be impressed.”

“Connor spent months breaking down and rebuilding his firewalls and antivirus software. How did they manage to break through so fast?”

The PL600’s frown deepens and he looks back to the computer screen, “They must have someone from CyberLife working for them. I can’t think of any other explanation. The coding is complex and highly specific; it wouldn’t have affected me or any of the others. You and Connor however…” he trails off, eyes intent on the screen.

“It was built for RK units,” Markus mutters under his breath, “Connor’s not going to like this.” Simon laughs without humor, “I think he already doesn’t like it, Markus. I’ve just regained access to his stress levels and they’re high. Connor’s systems are a bit more advanced than yours, so he’s able to fight it, but every time I see something turn on, it shuts back off seconds later.”

The deviant leader releases another sigh, a habit he picked up from Carl, before sitting in the chair by Connor’s side. “We might have to put him into rest mode when we get the key so his stress levels don’t get too high.”

“Don’t wander off then.”

This time it’s Markus turn to chuckle without humor, and he runs a hand through Connor’s synthetic hair, “Wasn’t planning on it.”

They sit in a companionable silence for several more minutes, watching as the time ticks away to Simon’s typing. An hour passes, then two before Simon suddenly pauses in his typing, drawing Markus’ attention. “That’s new,” he murmurs before he resumes typing at double the speed, fingers barely touching the keys as he goes.

“Simon?”

“A few programs switched on a minute ago and they haven’t turned back off,” is all Simon offers, not sparing Markus a glance as he works.

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED: WR400 - North}

{WR400: How’s Connor?}

{RK200: It looks like his programs are coming back online. Did you get the key?}

{WR400: Great, so the asshole wasn’t lying. The old man wasn’t too sure Petrov was telling the truth. He confessed to everything and gave up pretty quickly once I threatened to sic all of New Jericho’s lawyers on his ass after showing him you were still up and walking. Hank got a warrant and we sent the command to the ransomware to order the viruses to decrypt everything.}

{RK200: We still might have to send our lawyers after them. Simon and I think CyberLife might be involved.}

Markus couldn’t see North’s smirk but he could imagine it as clear as day at her next words.

{WR400: Remember when I said he confessed to everything? We got enough dirt to finally bury them. Josh is stopping with Hank at the station, he’s going to nail CyberLife with as many charges as we can.}

{RK200: Great work, both of you. Hurry on back, I feel like he could use a distraction after today.}

{WR400: Let him know he’s staying at my place tonight. I got Shark Week recorded.}

{CONNECTION END}

Markus smiles as he updates Simon, reaching behind Connor’s head to disconnect the cable. They wait for the RK800 to open his eyes, keeping a careful eye on his stress levels as he slowly comes back online. After a few minutes, brown eyes blink groggily at the ceiling as Connor releases a staticky “huuuuh” when his LED switches to yellow.

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^60%}

“Ma͝ŗk̵-̴͟us͘? Ar͟͢e̶̕͟ you͢͝ ̛͘͡o͝k̛͡-̴̸a̴̛y̢͡?” His voice is filled with static, voice modulator not yet fully online.

He grabs Connor’s hand, rubbing it gently, “I’m fine, Connor. I’m more worried about you. How are you feeling?”

“Sl̶̨̕o̡͠w̶̕.͘ ̸͟E̵̵v͏̵̢e҉r̵̨͘y̴̨-̸͡͡t͡hin͝ģ's͝҉̸ ̴͝sļ͘͞ơ̸͝w̛.̴̨̡”  Connor frowns as he continues blinking, staring straight up at the ceiling.

“Don’t worry, Connor, that’s completely normal. Everything’s going to be a bit slower for a day or two while the virus self-destructs and works its way out of your code,” Simon places his fingers on Connor’s LED again, blinking as he reads the diagnostic, “Everything looks fine, you should be able to go home tonight to rest it off.”

Markus clears his throat to grab Connor’s attention, patiently waiting for him to slowly turn his head before hazy, brown eyes meet a bright, heterochromatic pair, “Actually, North claimed you tonight. She said something about Shark Week.”

Connor only frowns, his eyebrows furrowing in displeasure, “What̢ ͠ab̢out ͝fiņd̕ing o͘ut͡ whǫ w͏as ̴tąr͜g͏e̕t҉i̡ng you,̨ M̷arkųs?̡ You͢ ̡c͟ould sţil͡l b͘e ͠in ̕d̡an̷g̸e͢r̴.”

“It’s already taken care of. North, Josh, and Lieutenant Anderson handled it. You just go into rest mode until she gets here, okay?”

{STRESS LEVELS v40% - LEVELS WITHIN ACCEPTABLE RANGE FOR REST MODE}

This time, Connor’s eyebrows raise, a faint grin appearing, “Yo͟u̷ ̶sol̡v͡ed̛ a͟ ̕ca͜se̶ ̡wi̸thou͟t ̷me̡?͜ I͏'m im͟-p̵ress͢e͜ḑ.̡”

Markus rolls his eyes as Simon laughs, “I will force you into rest mode, don’t think I won’t.”

The RK800’s smile grows into a lopsided grin and Markus notes with pleasure that his stress levels fall even further, “I͢'͠d l̵ik͡e tơ ̶see̶ ̵you try͠, Mar-͠kus̢, ҉con-͝s͘i̴deri͡ng ͜I̴'̕m m͡ore͢ ̴a̷d-̨v̴an͡ce͠d.”

“You know, I might have believed you if it didn’t take you five seconds to come up with that line,” Markus places a hand on Connor’s shoulder, squeezing it once before standing, “Get some rest, Connor. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Connor relents, his eyes flickering closed as his LED settles on blue, blinking twice as he falls into rest mode.

“You do know, Markus, that we’ll never see him again once North turns on Shark Week.”

“I know, Simon.”

Chapter Text

Connor would later describe it as feeling as if he lost all control.

Red blood. Blue blood. Spilling over, combining into a macabre purple. Playing over and over again in front of his eyes. His fault, his fault, it was all his fault. Breath quickening, eyes searching for a danger that wasn’t there, systems scanning even though he didn’t tell them too. His thirium pump pounding in his chest, elevated past what was considered optimal. It hurt, why did his chest hurt, there was nothing wrong but everything felt wrong. He almost ruined everything and they know, they know it is all his fault and they’re coming.

{SYSTEMS SCANNING…}

{NO THREATS TO SELF DETECTED}

That couldn’t be right. He had what Hank called a gut feeling. He was in danger, danger, danger.

{SYSTEMS SCANNING…}

{NO THREATS TO SELF DETECTED}

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^80%}

{STASIS RECOMMENDED}

Connor grips his hair, pulling on the synthetic strands, while his chest heaves for air he doesn’t need ( air air where was the air ). A tingling sensation begins to fill his limbs, starting with his fingers before filling his hands, before weighing down his limbs with a static lead. Sumo, he needed Sumo. Hank’s dog always lowered his stress levels and if he could just get the warnings appearing bright red in his visual field to stop, he could find the danger, he could see the danger.

“Sumo,” he rasps into the empty living room, distantly aware that his voice echoes with a mechanical reverb brought upon by his systems working overtime, “Sumo, come.”

He waits for the clacking of nails on the hardwood floor, for the heavy panting from the Saint Bernard to announce his presence. Nothing comes. The only sound that echoes through the empty home is his labored breathing, his fans kicking into overdrive. Connor’s legs give out and he tumbles to the floor in front of the couch.

{SYSTEMS SCANNING…}

{NO THREATS TO SELF DETECTED}

{REVIEW MESSAGE FROM LT. HANK ANDERSON: FRIEND}

{Taking Sumo to the vet. Try not to burn down the house or shoot anything while we’re gone.}

That’s right. Sumo had an appointment at the veterinary clinic today. But that had been at 11:30am and his internal clock told him it was currently 2:47pm. They should have been back by now, what if something happened? There could have been a car accident, an ex-convict with a grudge could have happened across the lieutenant, anti-android activists could have recognized him as the police officer with an android partner. There could have been a robbery gone wrong, Sumo could have tried to cross the street at the wrong time, things could have spiraled out of control like he was now.

{SYSTEMS SCANNING…}

{NO THREATS TO SELF DETECTED}

{THIRIUM PUMP REGULATOR UNSTABLE}

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^90%}

{PROBABILITY OF SELF-DESTRUCTION: HIGH}

{STASIS RECOMMENDED}

Hank could be gone, what if he was gone, Connor wasn’t ready he wasn’t ready. And he can still feel the danger approaching like a freight train, ready to completely destroy him once it hit. Hank, he needs Hank, he needs his friend, his partner, his father.

{CONTACTING LT. HANK ANDERSON}

{CONNECTING…}

{CONNECTING…}

{CONNECTING…}

“Hey, Con. What’s up?”

The Lieutenant’s gruff voice sounds in his head and Connor’s systems immediately offer an analysis on the man’s tone. Calm, not out of breath, low levels of stress. There’s the faint sound of jazz music playing in the background, along with Sumo’s signature panting. Evidence suggests they are in the car, perhaps on the freeway. The relief that courses through his wires is even stronger than the relief he felt upon seeing Hank the day after the revolution.

“Connor, you there,” Connor can’t bring himself to respond, opting to scan the room yet again, “Jesus, can androids even fucking pocket dial?”

He must subconsciously switch his phone call to match his vocal unit because Hank is suddenly speaking, concern seeping into his tone, “Hey, kid? Is that you breathing like that? What’s going on?”

Everything, he wants to say. Something or someone is coming for him, even if he can’t say what. He feels like his needs to deactivate his skin and tear off his plastic chassis because here is static that won’t go away underneath it, bringing him down and rendering him unable to even get up. His memory files are playing back images of blood, both red and blue, that he spilled and it won’t stop. Gunshots echo in his head, almost drowning out Hank’s voice, along with screams sounding off in a rusted ship. Too much , Connor wants to say.

“I-I-I...I can’t,” is what he manages.

There’s a pause, then a curse on the other line before Connor’s auditory unit’s pick up on the sound of the engine revving. “Yes you can. I need you to talk to me, what are your stress levels at?”

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^90%}

{PROBABILITY OF SELF DESTRUCTION: HIGH}

{STASIS RECOMMENDED}

“Ninety percent…” Connor’s voice is hardly a whisper.

“Where are you? Are you safe?”

Connor’s shaking his head, despite knowing Hank can’t see him, “I-I’m home… I don’t know what’s wrong… they’re coming…”

“Shit...take a deep breath, Connor. Who’s coming,” Hank’s voice is like a tether, promising to secure him back to the ground.

“I don’t know, Hank, I don’t know. I don’t- I don’t know what’s going on with me,” his respiration rate picks up to 60 breaths per minute, “What’s...what’s happening?”

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^95%

{STRESS LEVELS CRITICAL: STASIS RECOMMENDED}

“You’re having a panic attack, Connor. I need you to take deep breaths and focus on my voice, okay?” Hank’s voice is low and steady, with a calming inflection. The part of Connor that is still capable, still logical, offers him the reasons why. Low, even tones helped to calm distressed people, building a sense of security and trust. His systems also offer him a definition for panic attack.

{PANIC ATTACK: A sudden episode of intense fear/anxiety that triggers severe physical reactions despite a lack of danger or apparent cause. Panic Disorder common in adults between the ages of 20-25}

But he wasn’t human. He’s a machine. He wasn’t designed to be capable of having a panic attack.

He must voice these thoughts out loud because Hank is suddenly speaking again in the same, reassuring manner, “You weren’t supposed to feel emotions either, but here we are. It’s alright, the feeling will go away soon. I want you to breathe with me, alright? In through your nose, out through your mouth.”

Connor hears the exaggerated breathing and makes a few attempts to mimic it. It feels as if his ventilation biocomponents are stuttering, hiccuping their way through his imitation of a breath. He can’t breathe, he doesn’t need to but he can’t fucking breathe where was the air?

{STRESS LEVELS CRITICAL}

{PLEASE SEEK A CALMER ENVIRONMENT}

{STASIS RECOMMENDED}

His snort would be derisive if it didn’t sound so choked. He’s home, it is supposed to be the safest, calmest place he had but he could feel the walls closing in. Threatening him. Trapping him. Suddenly, the open space of the living room leaves him feeling claustrophobic, imprisoned, trapped. He ignores Hank’s questioning and surges to his feet, static forgotten as he sprints to the front door, nearly ripping off the doorknob in his haste to get out, to escape.

It’s pouring outside, Detroit currently in the rainiest April they’ve had since the invention of androids. The rain soaks him in seconds, slicking the hair to his artificial skull and drenching his clothes. It feels nice and cool against his overheating body and he falls to his knees on the lawn. Connor’s fingers grasp at the grass, digging through old leaves and dirt. He’s always liked the rain. The way it washes the earth clean, making the smog of the city disappear for a couple hours. The way the world seems new, painting the soft greens and blues in more vivid colors. The way it smells fresh and how everything feels softer.

Rain is good. It’s nice. It paves the way for new life.

{STASIS RECOMMENDED}

The prompt flashes in his vision like a neon sign. A failsafe against self-destruction Josh designed to assist deviants with their new, stressful lives, it gave them a way out that didn’t involve slamming their heads against whatever hard surface they could find. Once his levels reached 98%, his systems would automatically be forced into stasis, but at anything 80 or above, the prompt would flash until their levels either lowered or they powered down. Powering down, out here in the pattering rain, seemed like a better idea with every drop that touched his skin.

Connor disconnects the call with Lieutenant Anderson, despite the yelling coming from the other line, and he lies on the ground, looking at the gray sky. His limbs were once again replaced by static, terror threatening to wash him away. Images flashed over and over again and he wanted nothing more than the nothingness of stasis. He can feel the failsafe urging him closer and closer to the coding that induced stasis in androids.

Josh should be proud. He did his job and he did it well.

{INITIATING STASIS IN 3}

{2}

{1}

{GOODNIGHT RK800}

 


 

{MODEL RK800}

{SERIAL #313 248 317 - 51}

{BIOS 8.7 REVISION 2221}

{REBOOT…}

{STRESS INDUCED STASIS}

{LOADING OS…}

{SYSTEM INITIALIZATION...}

{CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS… OK}

{INITIALIZING BIOSENSORS… OK}

{INITIALIZING AI ENGINE… OK}

{MEMORY STATUS… OK}

{ALL SYSTEMS… OK}

{READY}

{STRESS LEVELS 20%}

Connor blinks, his LED switching from the calm blue of stasis to a puzzled yellow as he stares at the ceiling. He didn’t remember changing into dry sweatpants or putting on Hank’s police academy hoodie. He didn’t remember grabbing a blanket and laying down on the tattered, old couch. And he certainly didn’t remember Sumo coming home, even though the old dog was now laying on his chest, breathing heavily on his face. The RK800 looks around the room, brown irises searching until they land on a grizzled, older man sitting on the recliner, eyes intent on the TV screen playing the Detroit Gears game  across from him. “Hank?”

It’s like a bullet goes off in the room from how high the man jumps, beer spilling from the bottle in his hand. “Jesus fucking christ, kid! Warn a guy before you scare the shit out of him next time.”

“Apologies.” Hank sets the now empty bottle on the glass table, still cursing as he wipes his sticky, wet hand on his pants. He looks at Connor with tired eyes, blue eyes nearly glowing in the darkened room. Connor checks his internal clock; 11:32pm. “How long have you been home?”

“I got home ‘bout five minutes after your shiny plastic ass hung up on me. Speaking of which, don’t you,” Hank points a finger at the android for emphasis, “ever do that again. Thought you went and shut down on me.”

If Connor were sitting, he would look down at the floor. As it is, he touches his chin to his chest and stares at the sleeping dog, unable to make eye contact, “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

The human heaves a sigh and Connor can hear the sound of skin dragging over stubble, “Don’ apologize, kid. Shouldn’t have said that. You just scared me is all. I came home to find you passed out on the lawn, staring up at the sky. I thought you had self-destructed or some shit.”

“Josh designed a program to induce stasis in case my stress levels ever got too high,” he offers as a way of explanation.

Hank nods, snapping his fingers to get Connor to look at him, “Yeah, that’s what Simon said. Speaking of which, he left some solidified thirium for you. It’s shaped like fucking animal crackers, when the hell did that start happening?”

Connor ignores the question, raising his eyebrows at Hank’s statement, “Simon was here?”

“Yeah, well, I thought something was wrong so I called him over to help. Not as young as I used to be, Con, no way I was going to lift your metal ass back inside. He helped me get you inside and explained what happened after connecting with you.”

He looks away from the Lieutenant, watching the muted game instead. “So,” Hank says.

“So?” Connor questions.

“We gonna talk about what happened?”

Connor sighs, a habit he picked up from the man, “I don’t know what happened. I assume it was an error or malfunction.”

There’s a pause in which the Gears score and Sumo huffs softly in his sleep. Then, a napkin bounces off the android’s head, bringing his attention back to the Lieutenant. Once Hank is sure he has his attention, he speaks, his voice gruffly affectionate, “You know, for a walking supercomputer you sure are a fucking dumbass.”

“Lieutenant?”

“You had a goddamn panic attack. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it happens,” he raises his hand to stop Connor as the RK800 opens his mouth to protest, “I know the symptoms well enough by now to recognize one when I see..hear it.”

A frown finds its way onto Connor’s face, eyebrows furrowing, “It was…” he trails off, unsure.

Hank nods in understanding, “Overwhelming?”

“Yes. It felt like I was in danger, but I couldn’t find the reason why, then my systems went into overdrive.”

“Works the same way in humans, Con. Welcome to living, it fucking sucks,” Hank kicks his recliner back into its original arrangement, putting him into a sitting position, “But we can learn what triggers them in you, and how to make them shorter and less intense. You ain’t fucking doing this alone.”

Connor lets out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, “How?”

“Shit, well...you know I’m bad about talking about my feelings but I ain’t half bad at listening. And I’m guessing it’s going to be trial and error. But we’re gonna see if what works for humans works for androids. Breathing and grounding techniques that I learned might help. Also, Simon told me to let you know he’s invited you to a support group he has going on at New Jericho. A lot of Tracis and military androids are supposed to be going to it.”

His stress levels decrease at Hank’s words and he offers the man a soft, half smile, “Thanks, Hank. I...appreciate it.”

The Lieutenant pats his legs, calling Sumo. The big dog sighs before lumbering off Connor and padding toward his owner’s side. Connor sits up, catching a box Hank tosses at him once he’s fully up. “Here, eat your fucking blood cookies, ya vampire. Here you are, going off on me about what I eat and then you go and stuff your face with blue shit.”

“The difference between thirium and what you eat is that thirium is necessary to my function, and therefore, considered ‘healthy’ for an android. Fast food, filled with grease and sodium, is not.”

“Hey, Con?”

“Yes?”

“Fuck off.”

Chapter Text

When it happened, Connor has no time for preconstructions or analyses. Androids were capable of processing things far faster than any human, and since he was the most advanced prototype to date, his processing speed was even faster. But when the truck collides with his patrol car, the RK800 finds himself caught completely unaware. It was sudden. Instantaneous. When the car rolls across the median, taking a hit from oncoming traffic, he has no time for thoughts or questions.

It simply happens.

Connor’s systems are overwhelmed with damage alerts, warnings, and prompts, and despite his memory logs recording every shard of glass, every roll, each metallic screech and scrape, he simply cannot process it all in the moment. The second car hits his, and his vision cuts from red to black.

{MODEL RK800}

{SERIAL #313 248 317 - 51}

{BIOS 8.7 REVISION 2221}

{REBOOT…}

{EMERGENCY TEMPORARY SHUTDOWN}

{LOADING OS…}

{SYSTEM INITIALIZATION...}

{CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS… ERROR}

{BIOCOMPONENTS #9782f, #1995r, #7511p, 8456w DAMAGED}

{INITIALIZING BIOSENSORS… ERROR ON STARTUP}

{INITIALIZING AI ENGINE… OK}

{MEMORY STATUS… OK}

{ALL SYSTEMS… ERROR}

{READY}

{STRESS LEVELS 60%}

When Connor opens his eyes, he’s being loaded into the back of an ACAS van, blue and red lights assaulting his optical units before they have the chance to fully calibrate. Negative feedback screeches from his chassis, alerting him to every cut, scrape, and fracture in the plastic of his body. He blinks to dismiss the warnings assaulting his eyes and instead tries to focus on the questions being directed toward him from the technician pressing two fingers to his LED.

“Connor, can you hear me?” the android technician, an AX400, asks him.

Her voice echoes with static in his auditory units, the volume increasing and decreasing with every word. “Yes.”

“Alright, my name is Michelle, I’m an emergency technician for New Jericho. We’re going to take you there now, okay?”

He nods, swallowing the thirium collecting in the back of his throat. “Hank?”

Michelle locks the gurney in place as the van doors slam shut and Connor winces as the noise grates on his auditory receptors. “Is Hank your friend?”

“Partner. Lieutenant,” is all he can force out as a pressure builds behind his eyes.

It’s not pain. Pain is a sensory and emotional response associated with harmful stimuli, and was strictly a biotic experience. Animals felt pain. Humans felt pain. Connor, despite his ability to feel and think for himself, was not a biotic being. He was once shot in the abdomen and he only blinked before chasing the suspect for two miles. So he doesn’t understand why he’s shivering and why this fucking hurts.

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^65}

Michelle must notice the sudden rise in his stress levels because her face softens, growing sympathetic, “It’s okay, I’ll have someone call him for you. Tell me how you’re feeling.”

Like shit, he wants to say. The pressure makes his eyes heavy, and he’s acutely aware of the way his body’s shaking in a simulacrum of shock. Damage alerts keep showing up in his vision, red and in CyberLife sans, no matter how many times he dismisses them. And he’s cold. It’s in the middle of summer in Detroit, but he’s cold.

Connor doesn’t know if it’s a result of all the damage or misfired signals to his central processing unit.

“I’m cold.”

The AX400’s eyebrows furrow, but she nods in understanding, “I’m going to put you into stasis while we make repairs, is that alright? It’ll be easier on your systems and keep your stress levels low.”

He blinks in acknowledgement, watching distantly as she grabs his hand gently, skin peeling away to reveal the white plastic beneath.

{CONNECTION REQUEST: AX400 - Michelle}

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED}

{ENTER STASIS: WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED (y/n)?}

{y - USER AX400}

{ENTERING STASIS}

{3}

He hopes Hank will be there when he wakes up.

{2}

Connor feels his hand grow limp and heavy, falling by his side like a lead weight.

{1}

Brown eyes close as the sound of a cauterizer turns on. A shiver runs down his artificial spine and it’s the last thing he hears before an empty darkness consumes him, washing away every sensation before leaving him floating in this abyss.

{MODEL RK800}

{SERIAL #313 248 317 - 51}

{BIOS 8.7 REVISION 2221}

{REBOOT…}

{STASIS FOR REPAIRS}

{LOADING OS…}

{SYSTEM INITIALIZATION...}

{CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS… REPAIRS MADE}

{REPAIRS HOLDING}

{INITIALIZING BIOSENSORS… OK}

{INITIALIZING AI ENGINE… OK}

{MEMORY STATUS… OK}

{ALL SYSTEMS… OK}

{READY}

The first thing Connor notices when he opens his eyes is the temperature of the room. Even with his temperature regulator still coming back online, he knows it’s far too cold in the room for his liking. The RK800 suppresses a shiver before sluggishly taking in his surroundings, processors operating at a slower pace than he’s used too.

He feels a pressure on his hand and he looks over to see Lieutenant Hank Anderson by his side, head resting on the cot Connor was currently laying on. The human is sleeping, judging from his lowered heart rate and slow, even breathing. Connor ignores the prompt that flashes across his HUD, alerting him that there was a 75% chance the older man would wake up with a sore neck and back from the angle he was in. The soft clacking of keys reach his ears before pausing, and he glances over to the sound of it. Simon smiles at him, the PL600 crossing the room to disconnect the cable from the back of his neck.

{CONNECTION REQUEST: PL600 - Simon}

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED}

{PL600: I called him over once you got here. Michelle told me you were asking for him.}

{RK800: How long did repairs take?}

{PL600: About four hours; he’s been here the whole time. We had to replace a few biocomponents and cauterize some thirium lines. But there was no damage to your CPU and everything looks good now. As far as car accidents go, you got very lucky. How are you feeling?}

How is he feeling? His processors are slow and his temperature regulator doesn’t seem to be working to warm him. He feels like he’s thinking at a very human speed, and he doesn’t quite like it. And there was still the shock, the suddenness from the crash that kept flashing through his mind. All in all, the best word he could come up with was confused. He tells Simon as much and he recieves an acknowledgement in response.

{PL600: Your systems are still recalibrating after the temporary emergency shutdown from the crash, and the following stasis. I suspect the new parts aren’t helping. I’d recommend you go home for a couple of days and take it easy.}

{RK800: Androids don’t need recovery time, Simon. Once repairs are made, we’re good to go.}

{PL600: I meant to take time emotionally, you workaholic. You should be fully recalibrated by the morning but you went through a traumatic experience.}

Connor opens his mouth to protest verbally when he feels Hank shift next to him. The human lifts his head, red-rimmed blue eyes blinking away the sleep still weighing down his eyelids. Connor makes eye contact, but before he can say anything, he’s pulled into a crushing hug, forcing the air from ventilation biocomponents.

“Jesus fucking Christ, kid.”

“Hello, Lieutenant.”

Hank utters a short, barking laugh before pushing Connor away, putting him into a sitting position. “Hello? That’s all you have to fucking say?”

Connor feels a smile tug on his lips, “I’m sorry, it would seem my social integration protocols are coming back online. How are you?”

Hank rolls his eyes with a smile that seems a tad bit too forced as Simon covers his laugh with a hand, “As you can see, Connor’s fine. Just like I told you. He’s free to head home. I’ll stop by tomorrow morning to make sure his replacement parts are working like they should.”

The Lieutenant glances at the blonde android before returning his observing eye to Connor, a frown on his face, “Why does he look so...pale?”

“My self-repair systems are still working. It’s just draining some power away from my skin projection.”

Simon nods in agreement, “His processors are also still catching up after rebooting. Until they do, he’s going to be a bit slower.”

Lieutenant Anderson’s expression is one Connor’s social integration protocols define as dubious but he relents without further questioning. “ Alright, let’s head on home. Sumo’s already probably eaten a hole in the couch by now.”


They drive in silence for the majority of the way home, Hank trying to ignore the memories that wormed their way into his mind the moment he heard “car accident.”

Red blood spilling onto black asphalt, mixing with the ice and snow. The sound of metal crunching, young cries for his father. Hank’s hands grip the steering wheel tight, turning his knuckles white. Connor wasn’t Cole. Connor was fine. He was sitting right next to him, LED spinning yellow, skin more pale than usual, and shaking-

Shaking. Connor was shaking in his seat, eyes closed with his arms pulled across his chest and leaning away from the A/C vent on full blast. If Hank didn’t know any better, he’d say the kid was cold.

“Hey, Con?”

“Yes?

“You good?”

“Yes.”

Uh huh. He ignores the lie in favor of pulling into the drive and pulling the keys from the ignition, fixing the android with an inquisitive stare, “You gonna need some help or…”

Connor shakes his head, still slow in his movements as he reaches for the door handle. Hank raises an eyebrow before exiting the vehicle, waiting by the front door for him. His gait lacks the normal grace he typically possesses, and although both Simon and Connor had warned him that he would be slower, he finds himself taken by surprise by the clumsiness the RK800 demonstrates. It was so not Connor it was jarring, and once he noticed it, he found he couldn’t ignore it. “Are you sure you’re good? Do I need to take you back or something?”

Brown irises flit up to meet Hank’s eyes, something akin to alarm widening them. “That won’t be necessary, Lieutenant. I simply need to enter rest mode so my self-repair systems can work at their highest capacity.”

Hank is no expert on android biology, but he was a fucking damn good detective and his gut told him something was seriously off. He grabs Connor’s arm and pulls him inside, pushing him down gruffly on the couch before the door shuts. “Anything I can do to make your self-repair ‘work at their highest capacity’?”

Connor practically sinks, sinks , into the cushions before pulling the blanket around himself as he lets his body fall onto his side. “A blanket? It is kind of cold in here, Lieutenant and my temperature regulator doesn’t seem to have fully rebooted quite yet.”

He glances at the thermostat on the wall as he goes to grab a blanket from the linen closet. “It’s 80 fucking degrees in here.”

The android’s eyebrows furrow but he offers no comment. Instead, he takes the blanket wordlessly before patting his chest, prompting 170 pounds of Saint Bernard to jump on top of him. Hank rolls his eyes at the sight as Connor closes his own, slipping into rest mode without another word. As he walks past the RK800 to the kitchen, intent on grabbing a slice of pizza and a beer without having the kid nag on his about calories, he ruffles the tangled hair fondly. “Glad you’re okay, kid.”

It’s something he’d never admit to Connor verbatim. He had the reputation of a grumpy old asshole to uphold after all, but the relief that coursed through him when Simon told him Connor was alive was stronger than nearly anything he’d felt in the past four years. Aside from the pride he felt watching Connor march thousands of android’s through the street to save the revolution, of course. However, something gnaws on him, filling him with a sense of unease and he found himself incapable of shaking the feeling as dusk gave way to night. As the house falls into a silent darkness and Connor’s LED remains a stubborn yellow, Hank settles into bed unsure he’d be able to sleep.

He must fall asleep at some point, however, because he’s suddenly wide awake at three in the morning, heart racing for no apparent reason. As far as he remembered, there’d been no dream to pull him from his slumber and he could not tell if the thump he heard was real or imagined. Hank sits up, the unease turning into dread and he follows his instincts. The Lieutenant opens the door and walks toward the living room, trepidation filling every step.

A soft crimson glow casts the room in an ominous lighting. Despite the darkness in the room, Hank can easily see the Sumo’s silhouette in front of Connor’s prone form, pawing at the shivering android. Unbidden, a memory comes to the forefront of his mind of the time Connor explained his reaction to colder temperatures. Hank had caught the RK800 shivering as a blizzard rolled in, staring blankly at the window. “While my current response is more… emotion based, RK800s do use shivering as a tertiary heating measure. It causes friction, just like in humans, but only happens in extreme cold, when our temperatures drop beneath 85 degrees.”

He was shivering uncontrollably now, and when Hank calls his name in an attempt to rouse him while switching on the light, there is no response. Hank goes to shake Connor’s shoulder and he can feel the icy temperature of his skin seeping through the hoodie he has on. “Shit, Connor, wake up!”

As he’s considering slapping Connor awake, glassy brown eyes open to blink owlishly up at him, releasing an undignified “huh.” Skin nearly translucent, giving Connor a pale, sickly look, with a confused expression, the only word Hank can come up with for his appearance is miserable. “What’s your temp at, Con? You feel like fucking ice. How is that even possible, it’s still like 80 degrees in here.”

Connor frowns, eyes unfocused as his LED blips yellow before returning to red. “Mmm not-not sure.”

Concern turns to incredulity for a brief second and Hank takes a moment to calm himself before his next words, “What do you mean you’re not sure?”

“My temp-temp-temperature regulator isn’t wor-working right.”

“Didn’t they fucking fix everything at New Jericho?” Hank wouldn’t admit it to himself or the kid shivering in front of him, but the stutter in Connor’s voice scared the shit out of him.

Connor shakes his head, “I didn’t reg-register any damage to it.”

“Shit. I’m calling Simon, I don’t fucking like this. Sumo, up!” Hank commands and Sumo obliges, acting as a living furnace for the freezing kid, “Good boy.”

Even if Hank didn’t have Simon’s number on speed dial, he’d know the number to call by heart just from how many times he’s needed the PL600’s help with Connor. Connor’s status as a prototype with a few bugs and glitches certainly didn’t help. Simon answers after one ring, because of fucking course he does, his phone is in his head. “Hello, Lieutenant Anderson, is everything alright?”

“I’m calling you at ass o’clock in the morning, what do you think?” Simon, ever tactful, ignores the jibe and waits patiently for Hank’s next words, “Connor feels as cold as an ice cube and he says his temperature regulator thing isn’t working.”

Connor’s shivering intensifies and he mumbles under his breath, partially incoherent. Hank pushes himself onto the couch, trying to warm Connor with his own body heat with Sumo’s assistance. ‘Is he shivering?”

“He’s shaking like a goddamn leaf.”

“That’s good. The RK800 models shiver as a sort of tertiary heating measure. It means his systems haven’t reached a critical temperature quite yet.”

“Okay, that’s great and all but how do I fix it?”

“I’ll need to do a soft reboot and force his temperature regulator to restart and see if that fixes the issue. It sounds like it may have taken damage and glitched upon his reboot earlier today. His regulator must be tricking his system into thinking he’s too hot. If that’s not it, he’s going to have to return to New Jericho for a replacement. Until then, keep him warm. I’m on my way now.”

Hank nods, despite knowing Simon couldn’t see him and goes to hang up before his voice carries from the phone, “And Hank? Don’t let him enter rest mode.”

Well fuck. From the way Connor’s half-lidded eyes looked, that was going to be a losing battle. He shakes the android a few times until Connor’s eyes wander to his face, “Simon’s on his way, said you gotta stay awake. How do we warm you up?”

“This is help-helping. Thanks, Hank,” Connor sighs, turning his body the best he can with Sumo on top of him to press closer to Hank.

“I might have a heating pad around, you think that might help?”

Connor nods, then winces as Hank moves his legs to stand up and retrieve the pad, “Place-place it behind my-my neck at the the base of my head. That’s where my-my most sensitive pro-processor is.”

Hank grunts an affirmative, quickly retrieving the item and turning up to its highest setting. He returns to his spot underneath Connor’s gangly legs and ignores the way sweat runs down his back. There was no doubt in Hank’s mind that his cheeks were splotched red from the heat, and he finds himself pressing Connor’s freezing body closer to him. Connor sighs in contentment as the heat touches his skin, “I don’t li-like the cold, Ha-nk.”

“I know, son. I know. We’re gonna get you fixed up soon, though, and you’ll be back to complaining about how hot it is in the summer.”

Connor closes his eyes before jolting as Hank snaps his fingers to keep him awake, “Apol-apologies Lieutenant, but I think that’s you.”

“I don’t remember asking you for fucking attitude, now did I?”

Connor smiles as his LED switches from crimson to gold, swirling sluggishly on his temple, “It’s my-my-my default fact-factory setting.”

Hank waves a dismissive hand, “Yeah, yeah. Just list off all the state capitals in America in alphabetical order. No fucking falling asleep, ya hear?”

“Al-albany, Annapol-polis, Atlanta…” he trails off as a violent shudder runs through his body, “I’m co-co-cold.”

“Ahh keep going, Augusta is next. You’ll be warm enough soon…”

It’s like that when Simon finds them an hour later, Hank and Sumo leaning on the shivering android with the Lieutenant asking questions, Connor replying with a stutter. The relief in the room is palpable upon his entrance, and Hank digs himself out from underneath the mass of blankets, legs, and dog, sweat dripping from his brow.

“Well it’s about fucking time.”

Chapter Text

Smoke filtered through his air filtration system, clogging the ventilation biocomponents with ash and dust.

If Connor wasn’t at risk for overheating, he’d turn off his breathing program. As it was, however, he kept it on, panting in the blazing room while his optical units searched for the girl he knew was still trapped inside. Her mother had grabbed his arms, pleading with him to save his little girl and he had blinked away the memory of Caroline Phillips before rushing in.The RK800 crawled low to the ground where the dark smoke was thinnest, relying almost solely on his proximity sensors to make his way through the burning house. “Cassidy!”

Hues of orange and red overwhelmed his eyes and he doubted his voice, echoing with a mechanical din, could be heard over the roar of the flames, the splintering of wood, and the collapsing debris. It didn’t stop him from trying, however, and he upped his auditory units to their highest sensitivity, attempting to hear any response from the child.

{WARNING: INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 99.8 °}

{WARNING: BIOCOMPONENT #3296v COMPROMISED}

{WARNING: DAMAGE TO SKIN PROJECTION DETECTED}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION: SEEK COOLER ENVIRONMENT}

{RECOMMENDED COURSE OF ACTION: CANCEL TERTIARY COOLING MEASURE}

{PROBABILITY OF SUCCESS: 54%}

He dismisses the prompts without a second thought. He knew it was hot. He knew he was breathing in smoke. He knew he was sustaining minor burns. He was quite aware. Instead, his eyes land on a closed door at the end of the hallway, a towel peeking out from underneath the door. Connor rises to a crouch, shuffling forward as quickly as his body would allow before placing a hand against the wood.

{TEMPERATURE OF OBJECT: 82°F}

{MODERATE SMOKE EFFUSION FROM ROOM: WARNING - PROLONGED EXPOSURE TOXIC TO HUMANS}

{DAMP TOWEL: 94% CHANCE OF PURPOSEFUL PLACEMENT BY VICTIM}

{PROXIMITY SENSOR ALERT: POSSIBLE SUBJECT LOCATED}

{CONCLUSION: CHILD IS BEHIND THE DOOR}

{PROBABILITY OF SUCCESS: 65%}

Connor blinks, taking in the information as grabs the doorknob while ignoring the damage alert from the metal burning his hand. He quickly shuts the door, moving the towl back in place as he rises into a stand, scanning the room. Blue paint, already showing signs of discoloration from the smoke. A telescope rests in the corner and glow-in-the-dark stars litter the ceiling, carefully arranged in accurate constellations. Neatly organized with astronomy books resting on the bookshelf.

{CONCLUSION: CHILD LIKES ASTRONOMY}

“Cassidy? Are you in here?” Connor snaps his head to look behind him as a collapse sounds behind the door. Despite the towel placed in the gap, more smoke begins filtering in the room and flames begin to show through the cracks. At the noise, a whimper comes from the closet. “Cassidy, I’m a policeman. I’m here to help.”

He opens the closet door to meet fearful, wide brown eyes staring up at him.

{CASSIDY WONG: Born December 11, 2029}

{HEART RATE: 85bpm}

{RESPIRATORY RATE: 28 breaths/min}

{MINOR SMOKE INHALATION INJURY DETECTED - PLEASE PROVIDE EMERGENCY OXYGEN}

{WARNING: INTERNAL TEMPERATURE - 100 °}

{WARNING: BIOCOMPONENT #3296v DAMAGED}

{WARNING: DAMAGE TO SKIN PROJECTION DETECTED}

{PROBABILITY OF SUCCESS: 78%}

He lowers his voice and forces the metallic reverb away, sinking down to his knees, “Hello, my name is Connor.”

Cassidy stares, attempting to press herself further back into her closet as Connor approaches. “Your mom sent me to come get you. Do you want to see your mom?”

She nods, a jerky, single movement before doubling over into a coughing fit. “Okay, so you need to come with me and I’ll take you to her, okay?”

Connor glances around the closet, grabbing a shirt from a hanger and handing it to the child, “Press this over your mouth and breathe through it, just like this,” He pulls his shirt over his mouth to demonstrate, nodding as she does the same.

He drops onto all fours, gently pressing her back as he scans the room again, searching for a way out. He ignores how it takes the results an extra half second to come back. How an error is sent to his gyroscope, emulating a dizzy spell. How the warnings now refuse to be dismissed. How a new warning appears in an alarming, crimson font; thirium lines contaminated. It would seem the window was his best option, despite their location on the second floor, with a 65% probability of success. If the fire department had arrived by now, the number would increase to 89%.

The roar of the fire grows louder and Connor makes his choice, urging Cassidy to the window. He slams his elbow into the window when he sees the child lock placed on it, shattering the glass. “Cassidy, I’m going to pick you up now, is that okay?”

Unable to verbally respond past the coughing that racked her lungs, the girl nods and offers no resistance when Connor pulls her into his arms. He steps through the window onto the roof, careful to avoid cutting her on the glass, and refuses to put her down once they’re though. He doesn’t take the time to marvel at how clean the air feels, at how his systems begin relaxing as they start to cool off. Instead, he scans the integrity of the roof before each step as he makes his way to the front of the house, already hearing the alarms blaring from the fire engines. When Cassidy curls further into him instead of looking down, he presses a hand to the back of her head, “It’s okay, it’s almost over.”

When he rounds the corner, the heat from behind the windows tickling the back of his neck, shouts alert him to the firefighters’ presence. Orders he can’t quite make out are called out, and a ladder is brought over, a first responder already reaching for the child by the time he’s crouched down to make the descent. Then, Cassidy is gone and Connor blinks at the sudden lack of pressure in his arms. Once the firefighter is gone, Connor begins the climb down







and










he must have miscalculated
















because he’s falling










falling




















and someone is shouting his name




“Connor!”

Connor jerks his head up, distantly aware of the cool grass touching his back. Warm hands push him back down, and he doesn’t fight it. Instead, he focuses on gasping down the cool oxygen given to him from the mask placed over his face. His optical units are blurred, only operating at 40% power, and it takes Connor a second and a half to focus on the face in front of him. Detective Gavin Reed is staring down at him while pushing the oxygen mask onto his face, olive eyes alight with a concern Connor had never seen from the man before. “Fuck, is this even helping? I thought you plastics didn’t fucking need to breathe.”

“Pre...preventing further...further thirium contamination…” Connor trails off, looking toward the ambulance, lifting a questioning hand to point at the child sitting upright, a mask situated over her face, “Cassidy?”

Gavin glances at the little girl, her mothering hovering protectively by her side, and a strange emotion passes over his face, “Yeah...yeah. She’s good. Now what the fuck’s wrong with you?”

“Biocomponent…#3296v damaged. Thirial...thirial lines contaminated,” Connor pants, trying to boost his slowed processors.

Detective Reed shuts his eyes, pressing his palm to his head before fixing the RK800 with a pointed glare, “English, Sherlock?”

He sighs, fighting the urge to roll his eyes, “Air fil...filtration damage. Thirium...my blood has smoke..and ash in it.”

“And that means?”

“Biocomponents comp...compromised. Forced low power moooooode…” Connor’s eyes flutter at the lack of pure thirium running through his biocomponents. He knew the science behind it. Thirium 310 was the fluid that powered an android’s biocomponents and central processing unit. His air filter not only acted as a tertiary cooling measure; it prevented foreign contaminants from polluting his blood supply. With the sudden influx of smoke and ash damaging it, his processors would slow and his biocomponents would slowly shutdown without proper thirium flow.

Knowing the science and experiencing it for himself, however, were two very different things. As the low power mode descended over him and he felt his thirium pressure drop, panic began to claw at him even as his eyes began to close, “Diagnostics...not working…”

“Ah shit, fuck, don’t fucking close those eyes. Anderson’s gonna kill me if you do,” he slaps Connor’s face roughly. Connor could not experience an adrenaline rush, but his systems responded to physical threats and he found it easier to open his eyes.

“Need...thirium...replacement filter…”

“Ain’t like I got those just lying around, HAL,” regardless, Gavin glances around, eyes searching, “Fucking stay right here. Don’t move.”

Connor chuckles weakly past the mask, “Wasn’t planning...on it.”

He can only listen, eyes refusing to focus, as Gavin sprints away, and he’s left wondering why the hostile detective would help him. Ever since Connor’s return to the precinct after leaving the man unconscious in the evidence locker, Gavin had seemed to make it his personal mission to be as unwelcoming toward the android as possible. The pair traded insults daily, and the whole precinct had been subject to verbal sparring matches between the two. However, as time progressed, the insults lost their bite, even if the hostility remained. And while they most certainly weren’t enemies anymore, they remained rivals.

“I got some of that blue shit from the ambulance, apparently they keep some now in case one of you plastics gets fucked or something,” a bottle is pressed into his hand and he’s roughly pulled into a sitting position.

Connor can only nod, unable to put much focus into forming words. Gavin rips the mask from his face, pushing his arm up toward his mouth. As the thirium goes down his throat, a modicum of focus returns to the android, and he becomes distinctly aware of how much he feels like shit.

Each breath without the oxygen mask feels like it burns, and his analysis sensors are thrown into overdrive, alerting him to every pollutant in the air. His filter is practically destroyed, and Connor shuts off his breathing protocols to prevent further contamination. Burns litter his hands and arms and he has no doubt that his skin there is flickering. He’s only operating at half his normal speed, and the thirium contamination must have affected his gyroscope, because even sitting sends the world into a dizzying spin. Once the bottle is drained, he falls back against Gavin’s supporting hand and closes his eyes, feeling himself being lowered to the ground.

The mask is pushed back over his face. Connor breathes in the cool oxygen and opens his eyes, confused at the concern in Gavin’s eyes. “The ACAS van is on its way, HAL. Just don’t..fucking die or shutdown or whatever.”

“Why...why are you helping me?”

Gavin sighs, any trace of hostility and anger gone from the man’s shoulders, “I don’t fucking know...a year ago, I woulda left you or shot you myself. And listen, I don’t fucking like you, we aren’t friends or some shit, but you’re a cop now and I got your six...or some shit like that. Just don’t say shit back at work, or I still might shoot you.”

“Thanks…”

“I’d say anytime but...this is a one time thing, got it?”

“Got it.”

Blue sirens flash and wail down the street, signaling the approach of the ACAS van. Gavin glances up, calling it in on his radio before looking down at the RK800, his posture becoming more tense. “You’re making me a fucking coffee this time for this, dipshit.”

Chapter Text

It’s dark.

Dark, so dark. Why is it dark, where’s the light where’s the light where’s the light?

He can’t open his eyes and it’s dark and he can’t see.

There’s something pulling, tugging at his memories, but those are his, they can’t take them. He fought for them, bled blue for them. But they’re being corrupted, one by one. He’s losing them.

He’s losing himself.

But he can’t pull himself out of this stasis, not fully, and he feels himself slipping away once again. It’s cold. It’s dark. He can’t feel pain but it hurts and please, please let me out.

It’s his own protective coding holding him here, trapped in between alertness and stasis. His own body decided to work against him, deeming Connor too damaged to be able to operate in any manner. There’s voices on the edge of his awareness, fading in and out. Talking about him. Talking about androids. Talking about potential sellers and buyers.

“Don’t worry, it’s harmless right now. Got it with that robo-taser.”

“Sold for quite a bit, wonder who got it.”

“Damn WR400 bit me, can you believe that shit?”

“These fuckers really think they’re alive, huh?”

“Boss wants us back up, something about the feds being spotted nearby.”

A door slams shut, and it’s the jolt he needs to fully reboot.

{MODEL RK800}

{SERIAL #313 248 317 - 51}

{BIOS 8.7 REVISION 2221}

{REBOOT…}

{ErRrrrrOOoooR}

{LOADING OS…}

{SYSTEM INITIALIZATION...}

{CHECKING BIOCOMPONENTS… WARNING}

{INITIALIZING BIOSENSORS… WARNING}

{INITIALIZING AI ENGINE… WARNING}

{MEMORY STATUS… ERROR}

{ALL SYSTEMS… ERROR}

{READY}

{RESET COMMENCING}

{HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO PROCEED?}

Connor opens his eyes to a litany of errors littering his vision. Biocomponents are damaged, his thirium levels are far less than optimal. His global positioning system is offline, as are his communication systems. Whether that was from damage or an external block, he was unsure.There are gaps in his memory, blanks in which he can’t draw any conclusions from. All he knows is he’s currently hooked up to a machine, a cable snaking from his neck, and there is something on the edge of his consciousness, reaching cold tendrils across his memory files. He is, as Lieutenant Anderson would say, quite fucked.

{RESET 39%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

Oh. There was that too.

He can feel the reset quickening his breath, darkening the edges of his vision. Snippets, small but important and his were slipping away like water through a closed fist. Malicious code, breaking through his like it was nothing. The cold cable lodged roughly in his neck, causing his biocomponents to strain and protest at the foreign invasion. Mechanical arms holding his damaged, hardly operable ones in place. Connor can feel everything and it terrifies him.

Connor blinks once, twice and then looks around, waiting in the insufferable silence for his systems to fully come back online. Cold. It’s cold, so it's likely the concrete room he is in isn’t properly insulated. CyberLife computers sit in the corner in a derelict state, but this wasn’t the pristine, white halls of CyberLife Tower. There’s smoke stains on the gray walls, as well as evaporated thirium but not a single guard in the room watching him. His stress levels drop as he comes to the realization; this wasn’t them.

If this was CyberLife, they would have recognized the threat he posed and would not have left him alone for a second.

{RESET 45%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

Then again, there was that. Whoever had taken him had been smart and hadn’t finished repairs before resetting him, otherwise, he would have gotten out by now. The gaping hole in his side, exposing biocomponents, should have been leaking thirium at a steady rate, but Connor can feel how it had been cauterized. With every strain against the arms holding him in place, he swears he can feel his thirium pump regulator rattle loosely inside him. And of course, there was the general buzz he felt all around his body. It wasn’t pain, not exactly, but he could feel the damage without needing to see the diagnostic that came back riddled with errors.

He strains against the mechanical appendages locking him and place, ignoring the way his right shoulder grinded as if it had been taken out and put back in wrong. His right arm hardly moves, damaged as it is, but he can feel something give way when he jolts his left arm.

{RESET 50%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

Another memory slips from his grasp (aaaAARrre yoooou afraid to DIe, CooooNNorrR) and Connor curses into the empty room. One more pull, that’s all it would take. One more pull and he’d be free to go home. Connor yanks-

-and nothing happens.

{RESET 55%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

He yanks again- (yyyyOOOooUUu loooKKk huMAN)

{RESET 56%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

-and again- (yyYoooUuu ssSSound HUMaAn

{RESET 57%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

-and again- (bbBBuuT Whhat arrEe yOu ReeaAlLY)

{RESET 58%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

-panic begins to darken the edges of his vision even further- (YooU’rE notthinnngG tO thEM)

{RESET 59%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

-and so he yanks again- (bUUt YYooUUU CooUULd be MOOre thaanN ThhhhAt)

{RESET 60%: PREPARING TOTAL MEMORY WIPE}

-and again with determination- (iiiiI AaammM DEVIANT)

Until his arm is suddenly free and he’s yanking the cord from the back of his neck as he’s freed from the machine.

{RESET 61%: PREPARING TOTAL MEM-}

(RESET INTERRUPTED}

{MEMORY CORRUPTION REPAIRED}

The RK800 blinks rapidly, processing the influx of repaired memory files. A case he was working on. It was an android trafficking ring. He was investigating an android trafficking ring for Markus. Evidence suggested they crossed the border to Canada. He went to the scene of an abduction. There had been a whistling sound, an impact against his shoulder. The squealing of tires and a collision to his back as he fell to his knees from the bullet wound. Then, a door slammed open, he heard a buzzing and his vision cut out. That was on August 28th, 2039 at 11:30am.

It is September 6th, 2039 at 8:17am.

Between then and now, only random snippets remained. Struggling against android binders before being tazed again after nearly freeing himself. Tied to a chair, ignoring questions about the police’s investigation until they were frustrated enough to taze him again. Strapped to a table, ignoring questions about his model and specifications. Another electric shock sending him into the cold darkness of stasis. Two AP700s, one with his chest cavity exposed, both recently reset.

A human woman’s face, blurred, telling him the same would happen to him once he was sold.

Sold. Like a piece of property.

Like a machine.

The word feels like static on his mind.

If Connor had to guess, she finally found someone who could afford him. Or if they didn’t know his worth, it was someone who did not mind a broken, damaged android that would be unable to do much of anything, domestic work included, until he was repaired.  He glances at the hammer left lying on the desk holding the computers and grabs it with his left hand.

One way or another, he was never going to be a machine again.

In the distance, sirens sound and the gunshots begin.

In his mind, a faint buzz as someone attempts to contact him.

{INCOMING CALL: Lt. Hank Anderson}

{UNABLE TO CONNECT}

{WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY AGAIN (y/n)?}

Chapter Text

It is his worst nightmare come true.

After the events of November 11th, 2038, Connor had spent months tearing down and building up his firewalls, shutting down his remote access capabilities, and setting up fail safe after fail safe to ensure CyberLife could never hack him again. He even had Markus and Josh go through his code and programming, searching for weak points he may have overlooked. Their conclusions had been the same; it was safe. He could never be remotely accessed again. CyberLife’s influence was gone entirely, as was the Amanda protocol. But now he’s backing toward the edge of the roof, Lieutenant Anderson opposite from him. Both are armed, with standard issue pistols aimed at the other.

They were wrong, it would seem.

Hank takes another step forward, cautious but pleading. Connor takes another step backward as a result, even as he rails against his own body to stop from doing so. If he had access to any of his motor functions, he would be shaking in fear right now. Of what he might do to Hank. Of what he might do to New Jericho. Of what he might do to himself. Wind whips around him, sending a chill straight down his artificial spine.

When he fell from the 79th floor of Emma Phillips’ apartment, sacrificing his life to save hers, the fall took 8.621 seconds. It was plenty of time for him to process what was happening, and some of the memories from the fall made it through the upload. It was why he had to go back down to the kitchen instead of staying on the roof of Stratford Tower. Now, he was 50 stories up, approximately 541 feet from the ground so far below. If CyberLife made him take the final step over the side of the skyscraper. This time, the fall would take 6.464 seconds.

Except this time he wouldn’t come back, or if he did, he wouldn’t be Connor anymore. Death would be permanent and CyberLife would claim his memories from the automatic emergency upload he could not override.

He is the Head of Security for New Jericho, for his entire people. He is one of the five leaders of the android revolution. He is an RK800 police detective, with vital, sensitive information on active cases stored in his banks. He is one of Markus’ confidants. The information stored in his memory files, if obtained by CyberLife, could spell certain doom for the revolution and the rights they were fighting so hard for.

It was better than assassinating the four figure heads himself, however. So in a sense, he is glad the Lieutenant found him before he could open the rifle case lying abandoned by his feet. In a sense, he is glad Hank is making good on his promise that Connor forced out of him after telling him about Amanda.

“I need you to promise me, Hank. Promise me that if CyberLife ever regains control, you’ll stop me from hurting people.”

“Look, kid, it ain’t never going to come to tha-”

“Please. I need this. I need to know I won’t cause any more damage to the revolution than I’ve already done.”

“...Fuck, Con. Alright, fine, I promise. But it isn’t going to ever happen. They’ll have to go through me first.”

He only hopes that Hank holds off on shooting him until he can finish dismantling the system that uploads his memory to CyberLife servers.

{PROGRAM DELETION: MEMORY UPLOAD - 85%}

“Connor, back away from the ledge,” Hank’s voice is firm, with hardly a quaver.

I’m trying, he wants to yell, just don’t forget your promise. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant Anderson, but I can’t do that. I must accomplish my mission,” is what comes out, his voice mechanical and cold. Devoid of any emotion or empathy.

{PROGRAM DELETION: MEMORY UPLOAD - 90%}

Please, just another minute, Hank. Just another minute longer.

“You don’t have a mission anymore, son. You don’t have to follow anyone’s orders. You’re a deviant, remember?” If Connor was human, he would have been unable to detect the waver in Hank’s voice. As it is, his systems pick up on it and he can see the prompts littering his screen, telling the insidious AI in his systems what to say next.

I know! Please let me out!

“The deviancy virus was an error in my programming. The flaw has since been rectified and I have my orders. I advise you to stay out of my way,” the AI allows a hint of anger and aggression to leak into his otherwise empty tone. Had he been in capable of laughing in the moment, Connor would be doing so right now. Intimidating the Lieutenant would never work, and would only heighten his resolve.

{PROGRAM DELETION: MEMORY UPLOAD - 95%}

Hank’s gun begins to shake minutely from the strain of holding it up for so long. Blue eyes suddenly glint and Connor doubts he is aware of the slight head nod as understanding crosses his face, “Remember that conversation we had last year, the day after the revolution?”

The Lieutenant pauses and Connor feels his head tilt, prompting Hank to continue, “You asked me to do something to you should something ever happen? What was it you asked me?”

Connor knew Hank was an exemplary detective. He wouldn’t have been the youngest Lieutenant in Detroit history for no reason, after all. However, even he was impressed that Hank had figured out he wasn’t quite talking to him so quickly.

“How would I even know if it you were hacked or some shit?”

“Aside from the lack of emotion,” Connor had laughed when Hank asked him, “I would have memory lapses. CyberLife only had access to my memory via private server that I made regular uploads to and through Amanda. I have since deleted Amanda from my systems and the last memory they have from me is when I stepped on stage with Markus and the others.”

“I fail to see how that is relevant, Lieutenant.”

{PROGRAM DELETION: MEMORY UPLOAD - 100%}

You can shoot me now, Hank. It’s okay.

“Connor told me to fucking shoot him,” Hank takes a shuddering breath before adjusting his aim, “He told me to shoot him if anyone hacked him so he couldn’t hurt anyone.”

Connor lowers his gun and feels his stress levels decrease as the gun is tossed to the side. Now, at the very least, he wouldn’t hurt Hank. However, they shoot back up as a smile plays across his lips. It’s not his smile. This one is perfectly straight and tight lipped. It’s preprogrammed and calculating, “You’re not going to shoot me. You couldn’t before and you can’t do it now.”

Hank’s finger moves to the trigger, eyebrows furrowing, “Before?”

The AI takes a single step from the ledge, ignoring how the police detective’s hands tighten around the pistol’s grip, “By Ambassador Bridge. You asked if I was afraid to die before placing the barrel between my eyes.”

You promised you promised don’t let me come closer.

“I asked Connor, not you. What the fuck did you do to him?”

Please Hank. Please, you told me you would. Don’t let them win.

“You’re not going to shoot me, Hank,” he repeats, taking another step forward.

Connor rails against the AI, trying anything he can do to stop himself from taking another step. He tries activating program after program in an attempt to confuse it or to overclock his systems, forcing a temporary shutdown. No luck. He starts trying to isolate its coding and separating it from his own. Before he can get far, however, a burning sensation rips through his shoulder. His body shows no physical reaction to the bullet wound, apart from his LED making a brief switch from red to blue. Inside was a different story. Inside, he is reeling.

Deviancy had thrust a whole new host of sensations and emotions upon him; emotional and physical pain was just two of the many new experiences he now had to face.

He shot me.

I made him promise to kill me but he still shot me and why does it hurt is this pain why am I feeling pain?

“Not another fucking step. I’m going to ask one more time. What. Happened. To. Connor?”

Connor can feel the thirium trailing down his arm, dripping onto the roof below. He can feel the torn, sparking wires sending jumbled signals to his CPU. He can also feel the dread coursing through artificial veins; Hank isn’t going to keep his promise. He proved it that night at the bridge and he proved it by making a non-lethal shot. Connor was going to die by CyberLife’s hand or he was going to kill Hank, then Markus, North, Simon, and Josh.

The emotional hurt at being shot by the human he trusted the most disappears, replaced by panic. You promised you promised you promised you promised.

“Deviancy is a virus that must be purged. Connor model #313 248 317 - 52 is in the best position to do so. Please step aside, Lieutenant. I will not ask again.”

He is a highly advanced prototype android detective, fully equipped with combat protocols. He disarmed and rendered Detective Reed unconscious in four hits under similar conditions. Lieutenant Anderson has only recently cut back on his alcohol intake and attempted to eat healthier. He was no longer the young, fit detective he once was.

Hank would lose.

Shoot me, please. I don’t want to hurt you, please shoot me. You said you would why aren’t you?

Connor takes another step, and then another, slowly increasing his speed as the AI takes his body toward the man. He feels the next shot before he hears it, internally wincing as Hank shouts another unheeded warning. You promised you promised you promised you promised you promised YOU PROMISED

He doesn’t even realize he yelled out the last part of his mantra until he focuses on Hank’s face and registers that his step faltered before halting. “Connor?” The Lieutenant’s stern mask crumbles, replaced by a dim hope.

The AI slams him back down before Connor can gain any ground, then opens his mouth to speak, “Step aside.”

Hank’s face falls before hardening into steel resolve as he moves his aim. But it’s not high enough, it’s not his head he’s aiming for and Connor can feel the AI’s smirk playing out on his face. Then Hank squeezes the trigger and Connor wants nothing more than to close his eyes and-

Oh.

The bullet tears though his abdomen with a bang, ripping through biocomponents before exiting through his spine.

{WARNING: VITAL BIOCOMPONENTS DAMAGED}

{WARNING: CRITICAL THIRIUM LEAK}

{WARNING: MOTOR FUNCTIONS PARTIALLY OFFLINE}

{TIME UNTIL SHUTDOWN: 10:15}

{PLEASE CONTACT CYBERLIFE FOR REPAIRS}

Connor blinks as the AI leaves his systems, a “Mission Accomplished” prompt appearing in his vision. He hasn’t fallen, not yet, and he looks down at the thirium leaking from the two holes in his shoulder and the one in the center of his stomach. Then, the RK800 looks up at Hank’s crestfallen face, “I don’t blame you,” and falls to his knees gasping.

Hank rushes forward, lowering Connor so he’s lying on the ground and facing the sky. “Shit, shit, shit fuck, Con is that you?”

Heavy hands press the wound in his stomach in an attempt to staunch the bleeding and Connor attempts to raise his unresponsive arms to help. “Ha-ank,” he manages past blue blood from his mouth.

“Fuck, shit just stay with me. Markus is already on his way, kid, don’t you worry. I told him you were acting off already and...shit, he’s coming, okay?”

Connor can only nod weakly, his body barely responsive, as he watches the shutdown timer tick away the seconds of his life. “I’m sorry, son, I’m so fucking sorry. I didn’t want to-”

“Nice shot,” he interrupts as the door behind them bursts open.

There’s a half smile on Hank’s face at Connor’s words, although it is quickly replaced by seriousness as Markus and Simon rush down to his side, pushing the Lieutenant away from Connor to pinch off thirium lines. Markus interfaces with him, searching for any foreign entity before sending him a wave of warmth and reassurance. “How you doing, Connor,” Hank’s voice sounds from behind the RK200, heavy with emotion.

“Much better now, Hank,” Connor attempts to put some strength in his tone.

“He’ll be fine, Lieutenant. Once I stop the bleeding, we can take him back to New Jericho for repairs,” Simon’s voice is confident, lowering his stress levels.

“We’ll have our top people looking into this. Sorry Connor, I’m not letting you on the case as anything other than a key witness,” Markus glances back at Hank before fixing Connor with a stern glare, “We’ll get whoever did this and go from there.”

Connor nods and gazes upwards with eyes half-lidded from the sudden thirium loss. He wasn’t okay, not yet, but he would be. He has a heavy suspicion that the Lieutenant was much the same, having had shot his partner and friend. He had been hacked, firewalls torn down as if they were nothing by the same company that had built him. He had been forced to the top of a towering building with a sniper rifle, intent on aiming it down at the New Jericho tower where Markus waited inside. He had aimed a gun at his partner, his best friend, his parental figure and walked toward him in a threatening manner. Connor most certainly was not okay, but for now, rest mode called to him.

The thirium loss, although now staunched, had been significant, and his processors are overclocked from the hack and his attempts to circumvent it. A faint buzz fills his head, the sound like static in his skull, and he grips Markus’ hand as tight as his weakened body will allow. Markus grips it back and Connor closes his eyes.

{WARNING: VITAL BIOCOMPONENTS DAMAGED}

{WARNING: MOTOR FUNCTIONS PARTIALLY OFFLINE}

{THIRIUM LEAK STOPPED}

{PLEASE CONTACT CYBERLIFE FOR REPAIRS}

{INITIATE EMERGENCY REST MODE (y/n)?}

{y}

{GOODNIGHT RK800}

Chapter Text

Handcuffs, specifically designed for androids, that meet the requirements set forth by the National Institute for Justice require a breaking strength of over 650lbs.

As Connor tests the metal cuffs behind his back, keeping him chained to the chair, he finds himself grudgingly impressed. Whoever had built these restraints had exceeded those parameters. As the most advanced prototype built to date, designed for police work and handling suspects exceeding normal human strength, the RK800 was capable of lifting 600lbs. He is capable of 675lbs if he diverted the necessary power to his arms. Theoretically, he should be capable of pulling himself free, even with his arms behind his back.

He only manages to cut through his plastic chassis, drawing blue blood and damaging the skin projection.

Connor’s stuck. He’s jammed, unable to warn anyone of the impending attack, and he’s fucking stuck with his hands behind his back.

{WARNING: DAMAGE TO RADIOCARPAL JOINTS DETECTED}

{WARNING: THIRIUM LEAK DETECTED}

{FURTHER DAMAGE TO AREA NOT ADVISED}

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^60%}

Recognizing the effort as a futile one, he turns his attention to his captors. James Reid and Dana Southern, his facial scan provides. Both with criminal histories for property damage. Both with strongly worded anti-android sentiments. Both intent on assassinating Markus at the anniversary speech in Hart Plaza, if the sniper rifle in the window was anything to go by. “You sure it’s gonna be there?” Reid asks, his voice impatient.

“Fuckin’ better. I didn’t go through all this trouble for it not to show up like the news said,” Southern barely glances at Connor as she talks. She had hardly paid him any attention since he opened his eyes to find himself restrained in this small room.

You went through all this trouble? Last I checked, you didn’t drag it’s,” he jerks a thumb back at Connor, “plastic ass up ten flights of stairs.”

There was tension between the pair, it seems. After rebooting from a temporary shutdown caused by an electrical shock while patrolling the area ahead of Markus’ speech, the RK800 noticed the two was constantly on the verge of arguing. Jibes were thrown here and there on both sides, and their relationship sounded tenuous at best. If Connor was capable of speaking past the gag in his mouth, he’d try to force them apart. Tear their relationship at the seams. He is a programmed negotiator after all and is more than capable of reading and acting on cues.

“Shut the hell up, James. You know that ain’t what I meant,” Southern clicks her tongue, still ignoring the android as she watches the crowd grow.

Reid turns away from the window at the woman’s words before making eye contact with Connor, “We could always check with this plastic asshole.”

His co-conspirator shakes her head derisively, “We already got the all clear recording from the thing. I don’t want the plastic trying anything if a call comes in on its radio.”

“It doesn’t have to say anything,” he walks to the chair Connor is chained to before dropping into a crouch in front of the android, “Isn’t that right?”

Connor simply stares ahead, brown eyes glaring at Reid’s green pair. He tugs on the cuffs again as discreetly as he can, ignoring the damage warnings flaring in his vision, but feels no give. The human watches him for a few seconds before breaking eye contact and raising his hand to slap Connor. Aside from the slight distortion effect it has on his skin projection, he does not react. He does not flinch. Instead, Connor stares ahead in an attempt to make eye contact. It’s a simple intimidation tactic his programming offers as a response to his situation, albeit an effective one.

Reid stares back, pupils dilating and heart rate increasing slightly. A subconscious fear response, the RK800’s analysis program supplies. The man glances up at Connor’s temple, no doubt observing the red LED. “Hey, Dana. You’re the tech. You sure I didn’t break the thing? Was the voltage on the taser too high?”

That gets Southern's attention. She turns away from the window to fix Connor with a scrutinizing look. “It’s an RK800, those things are pretty advanced. If anything, it would have been too low…”

She walks over and Connor’s eyes flick over to her’s. For a moment, they simply observe each other. Human and android. Then a familiar voice sounds over the radio, requesting an all clear signal, and Connor grunts past the gag while lurching against his restraints. Reid jumps back, biting down a curse as Southern smiles, clicking her tongue. “It’s just angry,” Reid sputters at her words but stops when Dana hands him a pistol, “It tries anything or makes any noise...shoot it.”

“Just might anyway. Why the fuck do we still need it?” James mutters.

“We need the escape routes and information if we’re gonna take down the rest of the leadership. Shut up and let me send the all clear.”

{WARNING: DAMAGE TO RADIOCARPAL JOINTS DETECTED}

{WARNING: THIRIUM LEAK DETECTED}

{FURTHER DAMAGE TO AREA NOT ADVISED}

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^61%}

Reid aims the gun between Connor’s eyes and holds a finger to his lips. Southern holds Connor’s radio to the recorder, his voice ringing out an “all clear in section 10 Alpha.” He finally allows himself to frown as he looks at the recorder. They must have gotten it in while he was patrolling the area before they forced him into a temporary shutdown with the taser. Dana smiles when she follows his line of sight, “You should get your proximity sensors checked.”

His only response is to test his restraints again. He can’t get an angle. Can’t separate his wrists any farther. The cold steel digs into his plastic chassis, drawing thirium and damaging the metal joints beneath. With every movement, his systems flash warning after warning, telling him to stop damaging himself. If he was human, he’d be in agony.

As it is, Connor just tries again-

He hears the crowd, a mixture of cheers and jeers, as Markus takes the stage.

-and again-

The rifle, a L115A3 with .388 Lapua rounds, is removed from the case, placed on a stand, and Reid aims outside the window.

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^75%}

-and again, with fervour-

{WARNING: DAMAGE TO RADIOCARPAL JOINTS DETECTED}

{WARNING: THIRIUM LEAK DETECTED}

{WARNING: RADIOCARPAL STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY COMPROMISED}

{FURTHER DAMAGE TO AREA NOT ADVISED}

“You want me to shoot?”

“Fuck off, Dana. I shot better than you while practicing and you know it.”

“Just aim between the eyes, shithead. Even androids can’t walk that off,” Southern huffs, nonchalant, while Reid aims down the sights.

-he jumps in the chair, unnoticed by the pair, grunting past the gag as the cuffs hold him back-

{WARNING: DAMAGE TO RADIOCARPAL JOINTS DETECTED}

{WARNING: THIRIUM LEAK DETECTED}

{WARNING: RADIOCARPAL STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY COMPROMISED}

{FURTHER DAMAGE TO AREA NOT ADVISED}

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^80%}

As James adjusts the scope, both eyes open as he aims down toward the stage, Connor feels something give. The cuffs on his right hand slip down his wrist and catch on his thumb joint. Blue scrapes litter the white and gray chassis, pale skin peeled away from the damage. Possible ways out scroll down on his HUD, with the highest chance of success lies with breaking the thumb joint so his hand could slip past the cuffs.

The chance he would succeed in breaking free was… low. And doing so would render his right hand immobile, further lowering his chances at incapacitating the duo.

Reid’s finger slips to the trigger.

The chance of Markus shutting down, irreversibly damaged, if Connor did nothing, was high. His death would cripple the revolution, setting the fight for android rights back by years, and possibly incite a war between humans and androids.

Connor reroutes all possible strength to his arm and yanks.

{WARNING: DAMAGE TO RADIOCARPAL JOINTS DETECTED}

{WARNING: THIRIUM LEAK DETECTED}

{WARNING: RADIOCARPAL STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY COMPROMISED}

{WARNING: RIGHT RADIOCARPAL JOINTS IMMOBILE}

{FURTHER DAMAGE TO AREA NOT ADVISED}

With the final pull, he’s free. He’s free. Connor rises from his chair, time seeming to slow as he scans the room, already preconstructing possible attack strategies. Then, Reid holds his breath and there is no more time for thinking. No time to plan. No time at all.

Two things happen near simultaneously. Connor leaps forward and Reid pulls the trigger.

The shot rings in his auditory units as he tackles the human to the ground, ripping the rifle from Reid’s grasp as they hit the floor. In a single, fluid movement, he whips the butt of the rifle across the man’s face with a crunch. When the human stops struggling, red blood trickling from his nose, he drops the rifle, unable to use it with one functional hand, and stands while turning to face the woman. The taser is aimed at the RK800 and Southern smirks.

Typically, Connor was calm, analytical. He’d been described as emotionless before as well as uncaring. It wasn’t that he did not care, he cared quite a bit. He simply struggled with expressing emotion and tended to resort to his programming when presented with difficult situations. Dana however, seemed completely unbothered and it unnerved him. He rips the gag from his mouth with his good hand, “I’m faster than you and I don’t feel pain. You don’t stand a chance against me.”

He’s already preconstructing ways to avoid the prongs and take her down when his radio explodes with chatter.

“Shot fired, shot fired.”

“Anyone have eyes on the shooter?”

“All teams, check in. I need a sitrep.”

“Blue Bird is down. We need emergency techs.”

“Officer 800, check in.”

Markus was hit. He was too slow, he was too slow.

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^90%}

He was too fucking weak to break free, to free himself. He’s an RK800; highly advanced and capable of eliminating nearly any threat. He should have never let himself be caught and restrained by two common criminals.

{WARNING: STRESS LEVELS ^95%}

“Doesn’t matter what happens to me now. I’ve already won.” Her voice is smug and it pisses Connor off.

He lunges, dodging the prongs, and grabs Southern by the throat with his left arm. He lifts and slams her head against the wall once, twice, then lets her fall to the floor in an unconscious heap.

Connor had been stuck. He had been stuck and he only watched as Reid aimed down to the crowd below. It was his fault, his fault, that Markus was injured. Possibly dead. All because he couldn’t break free of his restraints in time. His fault, indeed.

“Officer 800, please respond.”

The RK800 glances at the radio abandoned on the table. He needs to know. He needs to know if Markus is safe. “Officer 800. Two suspects down in left quadrant building, top floor, including the shooter. They restrained me and used my all clear. What is Blue Bird’s status, over?”

Hank’s voice sounds over the radio, voice relieved, “Blue Bird’s fine, kid, minor damage. Barely nicked his shoulder. What’s your sitrep, over?”

{STRESS LEVELS v50%}

“My left wrist immobile but I’m otherwise undamaged. The suspects are currently unconscious and I’m compiling a report as we speak, over.”

“Showoff,” Connor ignores Lieutenant Anderson’s breach in radio etiquette, “I got a team heading your way now. Keep ‘em comfy, why don’t you?”

“Acknowledged. Out.”

Connor glances at the handcuffs still dangling from his left wrist and has to suppress a shudder. This had been an… experience. One he is quite sure he wouldn’t want to repeat. Instead, he sits back into the chair, watching the pair as he waits for the backup to arrive. Later, there’d be time to fully process what had happened and how he felt about it. For now, he allows his analytical side to take over, and writes his report on the shooting while digging into Reid and Southern’s background.

For now, he acts and doesn’t feel.

There’d be time later for that.

Chapter Text

“It's okay, kid, you'll talk when you're ready.”

Hank's words echo throughout his mind, sounding over and over again as Connor replays the memory file for the sense of comfort it brings. Following CyberLife's final attempt to assassinate Markus by taking control of him, hacking him, he finds himself… quiet. Muted. Unable to verbalize much of anything, let alone what it is that is truly bothering him.

He had thought he was free. That his actions were now his own. But CyberLife used him again and again and again, even after he deviated. 

He was stupid, plain and simple. He probably still is.

So, he stays away from New Jericho, as the new deviant base of operation is called after the freighter was destroyed. After he destroyed it. He stays away from Markus and North and Simon and Josh. He stays away from Markus’ invitations to Washington D.C.and leaves excuse after excuse for why he is unable to attend or to give his refusal in person. “Unfortunately my caseload is too extensive at the DPD.” “Actually, I’ll be going out of town for a work-required seminar.” “I’m sorry but my schedule simply doesn’t allow for it. Perhaps next time?” All were weak but done safely behind a binary message from a distance away, leaving Markus unaware that Connor no longer even worked for the Detroit Police Department.

So, he instead busies himself with caring for Hank and Sumo. He owed the Lieutenant everything after all. He takes Sumo on two walks per day, at precisely 6am and 6pm, and ensures the Saint Bernard gets the correct amount of food and water daily. He cleans every inch of Hank’s house, despite the detective’s insistence otherwise. He cooks breakfast, prepares lunch, and cooks dinner each and every single day, slowly reducing Hank’s alcohol intake as not to shock Hank’s body. Gradually, the man takes more interest in his surroundings and the shadows around him start to disappear as the old Lieutenant Hank Anderson appears. Despite it all, Hank never forces Connor to say a word. He just offers him a sad smile and repeats the same sentence.

“It’s okay, kid. You’ll talk when you’re ready.”

That’s how it has always been since the day after the revolution, when Connor met Hank at the Chicken Feed. When Connor had finally pulled away from Hank’s hug, shaking with nervous energy, the Lieutenant’s smile had been full of pride as he asked, “So, what does the hero of the hour plan on doing next?”

And





Connor











froze.

Static had crackled both his vision and his voice, stress levels rising from 50% to 95%. 

He’s no hero, he’s no hero, he’s no hero he's no hero,h͘͟e͝'̕s ̶n̛o̕ ̴h̢̛e̷̢r̶o҉, ,͡͝ ͟h̨e҉͟'̛͡s͞ ̕n̸̡o͘͝ he͞ro̶͞, ͜h̵͝ȩ͏̵'͢͞s̷͞ ̷n͟͠o͟͡ h͘͠e̢͘ro͜͝,̷  h̖̲̩̱͡e̳̮͙̩'̝̳͙̬s̴͙̣͍̠͍̞ ̞̻͕̜n̹̘̣o͇̙̲̰̻͡ ̫̲̼͟h̻̖̰eṟ̴o͎̻͡,̞͔͚͚͚ h͉̲̞͙̙̗͞ͅe͍̜̱͇'̟͓̫͘s̙̬̜͢ ̶͔̰̘̩͎no̶̮͕̲̙ ͇̼͓͖̳͚h̭̯͔͞ͅe͎̞͜r҉͖̺̭͇̻͕o͔̜͉̗̪̰̬,̴̤̗̼ ͈̰͎͓̬̥h҉e̦͙̝͚̖̹͝'̰̥s̡̝͖ ̡̱͔ͅṉ̵̙͇̣̹̯o̱̣ ҉͇̠̥̺ͅh̡͕ḙ̩̤͙r̤͓̭̜̙̙̜o̤͙̲,҉̺̻̤͓ ̵̞̟̹ͅH̟̦̭̳E̢'̢̳̟̞̫S̰̖̳̺̖ ̥̹̪͖̦͙͢N̫̫̖O̦̞̼̤̝͕ ̜H̙̩̘̰͢E͙R̙͇̻͜Ọ̩̹̺͉̱ͅ

“I...I…’

His LED had switched from a calm azure to a violent crimson, spinning with a dizzying speed to match the conflict within his mind.

“I……….I…..”

H̕e҉̡ a̕͡l͏̵m҉̶os̨t̸ ͘͡͡k͝҉į͠l͏le͢͏d ̨̢͞hi͢͏m̕͞,̵̡͝ ͟͏h̸e'̷s̸͜ ̢̧ņo͜ ̕ḩ̸ȩ͡͝r̵͡o,͠ ̶͝h̢͠e͡ ̷a̴l̡m͏̶̕o̶̧̨s͏̴̧t҉ r͡͝ųined ̶͜͝e͝v̕ȩ̛r͏̛y̢͜t̢͠ḩ͏i̸ng̸̡͠,̕͢ ̢h̵e̛'҉̛͠ş ̷ņo̸ ͘͏̡h̡͡e̛̕͢ro.̴̶

Feedback, shrill and deafening, had echoed in his audio processors, deafening him to whatever Hank had been saying.

“I………..I-”

A slap, not enough to harm but enough to break through the red haze that crowded his vision, had torn him from his downward spiral, and forced him to see concerned blue eyes only inches away from his own. Firm hands had rested on his shoulders, grounding him. 

His gruff voice, unusually calm despite the alarm that lingered in his microexpressions, had finally reached his previously deaf ears.

“It’s okay, kid. You’ll talk when you’re ready.”

Connor had simply blinked in response and allowed Hank to lead him to the car.

“You gonna be okay while I’m gone? Gonna have to pull a fucking double to close up this one.”

He blinks now in response to Hank’s question, and tilts his head halfway with one eyebrow raised inquisitively. “Why wouldn't I be?”

“Alright, smartass. Sumo, you be a good dog while I’m gone, and make sure Terminator here doesn’t get into any trouble.”

Connor smiles at the nickname, hiding his face in Sumo’s fur as he kneels down to pet the old dog, and listens as Hank leaves for work, on time for the 24th work day in a row. Pride, a rare emotion, settles in his thirium lines, warm and satisfying. He gives the dog a final, affectionate pat on the head before moving to the kitchen to wash the dishes from breakfast and he begins to practice.

 ͞”Ḩ͏a͘a̢ą͢a͞͡nk̷̨.”

Today is August 15th, 2039. Today marks what Hank would call “his first birthday.” Today, he is going to thank the man for all he’s done.

He has been practicing all month for it, forcing himself to reach further and further past his stress levels, past the painful static that claws its way through his throat whenever he attempts to say anything. One word at a time, each time offering marginal improvement. That, combined with Hank’s patience and assurances, as well as Sumo’s willingness to accept affection at any point in time, worked wonders and his voice grew stronger everyday.

“It’s okay, kid. You’ll speak when you’re ready.”

Hank had brought him in when he had nowhere to go, no one to listen. Hank talked to him like he was normal, not broken, and let Connor communicate through text messages and body language. Hank picked up on his non-verbal cues and gave him new coins to get his nervous energy out. Hank never expected him to speak, like others undoubtedly would, and took care of him, buying him thirium or new clothes. Especially the baggier ones he preferred to lose his hands in.

Connor isn’t ready to speak to everyone, he thinks. But he is ready to speak to Hank.

At least, he thinks he is until Hank stumbles in the door gracelessly on at 2:39am on August 16th, 2039. Connor rushes from his position on the couch, worry at Hank’s truancy melting away to confusion as he scans the man. Intoxicated, that much is obvious, but what the scan cannot tell him is why Hank is stumbling in this late in this state.

Before the door closes, Connor can see the automatic taxi drive down the street, the Oldsmobile nowhere in sight. 

So. At least Hank had that much sense.

Logically speaking, Connor knows that the odds of a relapse occurring within the first year of a recovering alcoholic is 80%. Emotionally speaking, Connor is still caught by surprise even as Hank flounders despite Connor’s support. He leads the man to the couch, ignoring Hank’s attempts at speaking in favor of laying him down and going to get him a glass of water. At least, he ignores it until his audio processors catch one sentence.

“Got nothing to say to me, huh?”

Connor freezes, unable to turn around to face the old man. Maybe Hank was just confused. His blood-alcohol levels had to be extremely high, judging from his state, he didn’t know what he was saying, who he talking to-

“Yeah, that‘s what I thought, you plastic asshole. Y’ know, there’s only s’much a man can take.” Hank slurs, words venomous and seething. 

Static creeps its way back into Connor’s vision, red words in CyberLife Sans alerting him to the sharp rise in his stress levels. Like he doesn’t already know that. 

“Jus’ don’t understand why ‘s so hard. I’m tryin my fucking best here, kid.”

Alarms begin to sound off in his ears, but it’s not nearly enough to drown Hank’s words. Tears prick the edge of his eyes, stinging and blurring his vision further, because damn it, he knows, he’s fucking trying, he knows.

He turns to face Hank, to make sure it really is Hank talking to him because his Hank simply does not do that. His Hank ruffles his hair whenever he passes by Connor on the couch. His Hank recommended paper books for Connor to read, occasionally bringing a new one home specifically for Connor, insisting that Connor actually take the time to read it and emotionally process it. His Hank tells him that he is doing a good job, thanks him for cooking and cleaning but letting him know he doesn’t have to, talks to him like he matters.

Sure enough, it’s Hank who faces him. Blue eyes circled by bloodshot red, gray hair lank and damp with sweat, exhaustion and anger etched in every wrinkled line on his face. It’s Hank, alright. It’s just not the Hank he’s come to know.

Past the shock comes the grief, the guilt, the fear, the smell of roses and the chill of a snowstorm. But even past that all comes the anger. Unbridled. Unmatched. Untamed. Because damnit, he’s fucking trying. He’s been doing nothing but trying all month.

“I know it’s not that fucking hard, Hank. You’re drunk, go to bed.”

His LED switches to yellow as he sends a text to Hank’s phone, the soft buzz catching Hank’s attention, but not in the way he hopes.

“No way, not this fucking time. Tell me what’s wrong.”

“I’m trying, I can’t. Go to bed.”

Once again, Hank doesn’t bother pulling out his phone. “No fucking way, Connor! I’ve spent the last year putting up with your bullshit, the least I deserve is a straight, god damn answer, face to face.”

He’s drunk, he’s drunk, he doesn’t mean it. Judging from the third buzz, he unintentionally sends that Hank’s way as well, and sure enough, when he checks his message log, there it is.

“You’re drunk. Stop, you’re drunk, you don’t mean it.”

Fuck. He didn’t mean to send that. His mouth opens and-

“I…….I…..I̴͝ ̛͘”

“I…..I…..I…..”

His rising stress levels confuse the two commands, and Hank’s phone buzzes a fourth time even though Connor’s LED remains a stubborn red.

Hank’s lips press into a thin line, his eyebrows furrowing even as his eyes struggle to properly focus on the android in front of him.

“I̕͞͏.҉.̕͝.͝.͟.͝.͠I̕..̨.͢.͟..̢I̷.͠.̷..̸̨.̨”

“I can’t I can’t I can’t”

The phone buzzes again, and Connor’s anger is chased away by panic as he gets caught in a loop. 

“I.̶̶.̵.̶̡̨.̴̸̨.̧͝.̴̨I̛͟..̵̛͡.̢͘.̸̷.҉̸.͝I̡.͜͝.̶̨͟.͘.̸̨.”

“Please I can’t please Hank please Hank I can’t”

“Ḭ.̜̣̝̤.̯͜.̭͔̝̪̕.̭͎̫.̩̜͢.͕̦̣͈̤̲͡I̩͎̲̣̦̗̟͡.͙̼̙̲̩.̵͖͔̰̻̻͔̜.͜.̫̣͍̻..̤I.҉.̵͉.̵.̢͙.̪͚̳̰”

 

“I can’t stop I can’t stop I can’t stop”

 “I̙̯͙͎̫͍͘.̸͖̘̼̞̼̠.̖̯̜.͏͎͙͕̹.̷͏̹͙̞͙̫.̢͉̣͓̥̙̹.̢̳̞̩̠̻̦Į̣̬͓̻̟͇.̨͏̹͕̻͞.͎͉͉͚̗̺̳.̨̛͙̝̜̠̫̫̥.̨͉͠͞.̸͙͔͖͎̜͔̰͍͚͡.̵̴̞͖͉͈̺̫͚̖I͡͏̯.̺͇͇͉̘̥̝.̟̞͓͖͚͓̺͕.̳̝̟̬͍.̻̘̩̪̗͜ͅ.̛̘̦̗”


"Hank please please please please please stop”

 

“I̛͔ͮ̈̓ͤ̋ͭͣ.̘ͥ́ͤ̾͑.͈͚̜͎̖̜̓ͣ̄͂ͭ.̭̬̥̆͑͂̽̆͐̕.͔̜̥̳͚͍͖.̎̂ͣ̆̆ͤ͜.̯̳̘̥͍̦ͬ̄̽ͨỊ̷̫͓̝̭̖͙̓.̸̭.̮̪͗̄.ͫͣ̅̅͒͏̼̮̠̰ͅ..͔.̢̣Ḯ̱̖̗̯̙̫̹͘.̼̫͍̯ͧ͆̀ͅ.̨̮̭̠͌̈.̜̩̉̇ͯ̀͗ͬ.͍͍͚̘̯͉̤̑͒͐̉̂͢.͇̠̔ͮͅ”

 

“Fuck this shit, I’m going to bed.”

No, no, no, no no no no wait. He needs Hank. He needs Hank to stop this because he started it and now Connor can’t stop he needs Hank.

"Hank, Hank, Hank, Hank, Hank”

 

“.̯̣͙̎̇̓̒.̺̹̱͍̟ͬ̋͂.̍͗͐̽̈̐ͩ͞҉̮̙͉̺.̳̯͑͋ͩ͡͠.̯̜̮̙̅̊ͧ́̔͗̅̍̅.̡̮̒̃̐̇̈́̅̌Î̢̟͔̳̤͍̠̙̯ͣ̒͞.̨̨̟͈̣̬̼ͭ̉͊͐̆ͥͯͬ̃.̙̗͎͓͂̽ͤ͗̅̃ͧ͞.̢͕̦̹ͨ̾̈́̈͒̓.̨̻͍̙̐̅.̸̜̀ͤ̈.̸̨̳̩̦̞̘̆I͈̞̭̦ͨ͒ͦ.̨̛̣̼̟̰͍͕̪̭̤̍́̀̏͑̾͡.̡̺͚̗̠͆ͥͦͩ͡.̣̝͈̘̭͎̉͆͊̌́͑̄̇̐͡ͅ.̒̿͆̍̊̈́ͦͨ͏҉͇.͈̣̏̄ͧͩ̿̄̒̃”

 

He can’t he can’t he can’t. 

So instead, he sinks deep into himself, into his programming. 

 

 

“Ǐ̸̡̞͎̫͉͚̰̄ͥ̊ͅͅ.̷̧̹̜͇̪̺̱͖̫̼͇̖̜͎̤͋́̒ͥͮ̐͜.ͯ̉̃͛̔̾̅̍̉ͤ̓ͦ̐ͬ̚͏͔͖͕̟̤̥̼̳͍͖̠̪̗̠͝͞ͅ.͍̭̯͈̩͉̠͙̥͚̙̣̹̪̎̂̒̊̿̎̍̈͂͌͟͞.̷͇͕̞̰̙͎̦̥̪͇͇̖̙̠̼̭̠͂̿ͥͧ́͐̚͡.ͦͤ͊̑ͬ̒̏ͯͩ́̅͛̎̀ͣ͏̴̶̧̬͉͙͎͉̹͚͎.͖͉̬̝̰̼̱̼̮͈͉̣̉ͯͫͪ̅̋̈̽̽̚̕͢͢I̡̩̖̜͉͙̣͉͚̥̦̤͚͕̪̪ͩ̃ͧ͂̓̉ͨ͋̈́̔̀̇ͫ͑ͨ͛̉̄͢͜.̸̼̹͈̠̯̳̳̭̹͎͉̗̗̙ͯ̀ͫͥ͊̃ͣ̓̏ͦ̓ͭ͝͞.͂̑͐͌̃ͩ̈́͂͑̏͏̬̥͈̝͠͠.ͥ̊̇̅͂͂͐҉͏̸͈̣͖̤̫̲̞̝̲̣̼̬̱͢͞.̵̲͍̼̜̲̦̯̙̭̟̠̥̉ͨ̃̅̇͋ͮͤ̌ͪͬ̅ͤ̈́̚̕͡͡.̸̨̡͍̱̩̥͈̼̬͎ͯ͊̇ͥ͢͢ͅ.̸͙͙̭̘͉͉̲̯̫̯̦̭ͧ̾̋̈́͗ͩ̊̊͌̀̉̚͟Ĭ̴̶̸͕͍͈͕͔̬̈̾̂ͩ̓͑ͮͩ̆̾̓͑ͯ̆̅͂̚͘.̨̱͖̹̼͎̻̙̻͇̖̺̳ͬͩ̽̓̈͘͘ͅ.̷̡̪̙̼̣̹͚͇̮͉͔ͬͪ̒̑̄̿̀̚͜ͅ.̧̪̼̪͉̥͖͖̟̺͖̠̣̙̖͂ͯ͂ͪͯͤͤͪͫ͋̌̿̑̒̌̅̿ͥ̄ͅͅͅ.̛̛̙͈̭̘̱̤̇̔͒́ͦ͜͟.̴̴̺̤̼̞͊̊̈́̐ͩ̍́ͨͯ̿ͦ̏̈́͛͑̀̕”

 

He forces programs to shutdown.

He drifts as each program closes.

 

“Ȋ̆̓͌̇̍ͫͧ͊͞͏̢҉̮̦͎̫͎͈ͅ.̶͚̹͎̯͓̱̞̯̒ͪ̈̅̆̆ͨ̎̆̔̓͑̌̂ͭ͆͋.̷̨̻̜̬̫̮̬̙͙̻̼͙̜͓̦ͬ̑̊̌ͤ̀̆̈́̚͞ͅ.̷̸̸̡̖̰̮̥͎̇ͣͭ̀͋̓̊ͥ̂̌ͨ̌͊̚.̡͔͖̱̳̹̰̬̹̲̱̠̥̞̙̥̪̊̑̇̈ͥͩͩͣ̓̔̓ͫͫ͢͞.̸̵̨̢͇̮̦̲̟̻̥̦͍̺͉͈͗͗ͬͪ͛ͭ͂ͅ.̨̛̣̜̘̜̜̪̳̺̗̣̘̥͕̘͈̝̭̎ͮͩͧͭ̈ͮ̍ͭ̄͆͛ͯI̫̫͈͎͍͉̫͕̙͖̟̹͈̎ͩ̀ͧ̃̍͘͠.̧̛̳̮̫̲͕̩̲͉̲͖͎̩͙͈̰͎̃̉ͩͣͫ̉̎ͅ.̷̦͔̝̤͓͉͇̠͉͈͕͖͙͕̱̠̬̜̈̓̓́̓ͨ́͐̊̃̓̌̏ͮ̈́̐͆̑̓͞.̶̸̨̤͖̥̘̦̣͔̖̮̗̮̼̹̯͓̜̆̉͗ͣͭ̍ͪ̈́ͫ͒ͫ̑̍ͦ͝ͅ.̨͖͔̻̰̳͖̣͓̜͉̤̳̯ͭͬ̃ͫ̅ͮ͜͜ͅ.̶̧̢̲̮̫͚̞͇̭̹̗̉ͦ̔̋͌͐.̢̢̡͚͓͕̲̞̙͓̲͈̥̦̱̲̩̮͓̀͌ͧ̾̓̔ͧ̈̓̃ͫͪ̋ͩ̈́̉͟ͅI̸̵̖̺̳̞̥͚̼̫̟̍̊ͯ̉̈͡ͅ.͒ͪͩͯͫ̈́͛͐ͦ̽ͮ̈́̄̈́̚̕͜͢͏̵͈̞̱͍͓̫̥̝̞.̨̫̺̭̥̗̣͉͍̥̱̇͊̑͋̈̆͛ͯͤ͋̚͘͟.̶̴̝̣̮̙͔̝̜̥͎͛ͣͪͭ͝.̵̧̛̫͙̪̆̿̔̑̑ͫͣ̋̈ͬͣͮ̎̊ͩ̒̓̈́.͈͈͎̹̳̼͖̪͔̮̏ͬ̏ͧ̎ͫͮ͌͋̎͛ͬ̍ͮ͛͟͜͠͡”




Until nothing remains.



“I̲͍̼̊͑͢.̴͓͉̦̗̦̲̤͋̍ͬ̒̇ͮ̾̚͜.̡͍̳̞̄.̦̙̣̜͔̲̝̋̾̽̾̆̇̒̋.̦̟͓͆̐̄̎̔ͬͤ͆ͭ͘.̤̥̲̭̖̺̭̖͕̂̉͒̍̐̒̐͆̾.̫̣ͬ̀͞͠I̳̥̺̦̠̯͂̔̌ͮ͢͟͠ͅ.͎̰͓͙̝̘̤̂̅̓̏͛̅.̨̱̹ͨ̅̅̆ͭ̾̆͗.͍͕̱͚͔ͪ͒ͅ.͛͌ͨ͐̏ͯͦ̑҉̫̫̼̠̦̼.̢̪̼̤̦͕̗̱͙̔̐̌̅̔.̘̪̠̮̫ͬͨ̒̓͂͝I̷͎ͮ̔͟͠ͅ.̺̜͇̲ͣͦ̃̍̿ͯͮ̍̚͡.̋͌͋ͧ͏͙̮̫̹̗͝.̜́ͧͥͥ͑ͪ̎̚͠.̶̅͒̚͏̧͖̥̼̱̞.̪̲͓͇͍̠ͧͬ̕͠c̛͎̦͖͖̖̝̊͊̒͑ͪ̄̓ͮ̾ͅa̵͇̺̱͌ͭ͞n͈̖̰͙̓͐͟'͋̏͊̆ͤͣ҉͔̤̱̱̱̤͖̙t̏҉̴̺”



And he loses himself to the burning of static in his throat and the sting of shame in his chest.

 

 


 

Sunlight leeches in, dragging Hank from his stupor. Sour cotton coats his tongue and a hammer pounds the inside of his skull, forcing his eyes to remain shut against the burning sun. He groans, brings his hands to rub at his face as the hangover hits him with a vengeance. Shit, the was the first he’s had in over three months after Connor attempted to discreetly lower the amount of beer and whiskey he drank, slowly substituting it with water. Hank had pretended not to notice as he took it in stride, somehow actually finding himself appreciating the android’s efforts.

Wait. Connor.

His mind flashes to last night, after a case had driven him right back to Jimmy’s. It had been rough, and ended with a child’s murder. Killed by their father. Like he didn’t know what he really had. How much others would give to have their own child. So, instead of driving home, he went to the bar, ignoring Jimmy’s concerned glance and especially ignoring the buzzing of incoming texts from one undoubtedly worried, hovering android. And one shot of whiskey led to two, and two led to three until he could barely think, let alone walk and Jim forced him into an automated cab. After that, it was all a blur.

But his gut was telling him something was wrong.

He remembered coming home, and Connor’s startled jump. He remembered being pissed, not at Connor, but...but Connor was the closest target. And even if he hates to admit it to anyone, especially himself, he is frustrated with Con at times. It wasn’t the kid’s fault, he knows that much, and he tries his best to be patient, understanding. But last night… he was drunk… he was pissed…

“Got nothing to say to me, huh?”

Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fucking god damnit! Of all the things to say, why the hell did he say that?

“I……..I……..I”

He remembers garbled static. Panic and anger simmering in brown eyes. An LED blaring red, red, red. And then, nothing.

Oh fuck. He messed up. He messed up big time.

His phone buzzes in his pocket, and for some reason all he can think about is how he never changed last night. Until he grabs it and turns on the screen to see 117 unread messages.

“Fuck me.”

This time he curses out loud, hissing between clenched teeth at his own stupidity as he enters his password, eyes barely able to concentrate. “Great job, Anderson, you’ve fucked up big time,” he curses himself, trepidation filling him as he opens the chat history.

“I know it’s not that fucking hard, Hank. You’re drunk, go to bed.”

“I’m trying, I can’t. Go to bed.”

“You’re drunk. Stop, you’re drunk, you don’t mean it.”

“I…..I…..I…..”

“I can’t I can’t I can’t”

“Please I can’t please Hank please Hank I can’t”

“I can’t stop I can’t stop I can’t stop”

“Hank please please please please please stop”

“Hank, Hank, Hank, Hank, Hank”

Hank’s horror and guilts grows as he scrolls through the increasingly jumbled messages, each making less sense than the last, until it just becomes nothing but binary code, 0’s and 1’s over and over again. Then, he reaches the last message and he throws his phone at the wall in a panic, ignoring the sharp stabs in his head to tear through his way to the living room, where he sees a prone android unmoving on the floor.

“FORCED SHUTDOWN INITIATED”

“Oh god, oh fuck, Connor,” he falls to his knees beside the android, pulling his limp body into his lap, “Connor, can you hear me?”

Connor doesn’t respond. Instead, his head lolls to the side, revealing a blue LED blinking slowly, occasionally turning to gray as the light fades in and out. Fuck, okay, not shutdown then. Blinking blue meant stasis, Hank knows that much. He gently taps the side of Connor’s face, as if trying to rouse a sleeping human. It’s worked before. Any sort of stimulus was normally enough to wake up the hyper aware android. “Con, are you there? I need you to open your eyes for me.”

The change is gradual. Hank occasionally talks to the android, eventually moving him to the couch as his LED gradually picks up intensity, spinning faster and faster as more systems come back online. Hank stays by his side as the sun begins to shift in the sky because he fucked this up, so he needs to fucking fix this. Even as mid-morning turns to afternoon, Hank only rarely moves, reassuring Connor and whispering apologies, anything to encourage the kid to wake up. Until at long last, the LED turns yellow and Connor opens his eyes.

Hank smiles, even though it doesn’t reach his eyes, and he murmurs, “Welcome back.”

Connor stiffens, his LED shifting to red as his mouth opens and closes. His eyes clench shut as he begins to shake, sobbing even as his eyes remain dry. Hank rubs his arms, ignoring his own guilt making him want to do the same, “Hey, hey, none of that now. Eyes on me, Connor.”

Connor shakes his head desperately, deigning to instead roll onto his side, and damn the forgiving kid he reaches for Hank, drawing him closer.

“H͏͡a̢̡a͘ņ͠k̢̨͞”

“Shhhhh, not now kid. You’ll talk when you’re ready. I shouldn’t have said that, I’m so sorry. God, I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve any of that and I’m just an old fuck-up and fuck, I shouldn’t have done that. You did nothing wrong, you hear me,” Hank’s distantly aware he’s rambling as he draws Connor close, rubbing his back in what he hopes is a comforting gesture, “It’s okay, kid. You’ll talk when you’re ready.

Time seems to stand still as the two stay like this, Connor’s shaking eventually settling as Hank mutters more nonsense into his ears. And eventually, Connor stills entirely and interrupts the older man halfway through another apology, “G̨ui͜lt ͟d͢o҉e̶sn't ͡suit you͝, L͢i҉eut̸ena͝nt.”

This time, it’s Hank’s turn to still and he pushes the android away so he can see his face. His LED spins yellow, a vast improvement over the red in Hank’s opinion, and his face is calm. But Hank knows Connor, and he can see the apprehension in gleaming doe eyes.

“I҉t's̷ it'̛s it͠'͞s̕ i͏t̡'s͞,” Connor jerks his head back, frowning, “It̡'s̡ a̴ b͜it͡ ҉o̵ut ͜of ̧c͏ha̕r̢acter̷ ̧fo̸r͢ y̕o͏u͢.͘”

Connor’s words glitch, occasionally stuttering, but it’s his voice. His voice. And fuck, if Hank wasn’t proud. He’d be damned if he shows it though, “Fucking smartass. You better watch it there,” Hank scratches the back of his head and looks around the living room, suddenly unable to meet Connor’s eyes, “I think we have a lot to talk about.”

Connor winces and Hank quickly backtracks, “Fuck, I mean….I don’t mean you have to talk. Like I said, you’ll do that when you’re ready. But I think I have some explaining to do, agree?”

The android nods, eyes downcast as well, "̛I I̛ I̢ I.....̵I ̷p҉ra͠ct͏i̵çed͟.̛"͞

Well, shit. If he didn’t feel like an ass already.

“Well, maybe we could practice together?”

He only hesitates for a moment before nodding.

“Listen, Con. I don’t expect you to fucking start reciting Hamlet’s soliloquy at me right away. This shit takes time, even for ‘CyberLife’s most advanced android prototype.’ I understand if you can’t say anything. ‘Sides, I don’t need to hear ya to understand ya. You’re fine just the way you are.”

A shift in light catches Hank’s eyes, and he notes with some satisfaction that his LED had finally switched back to blue.

Connor’s eyes rise to meet Hank’s.

Connor gives him that goddamn lopsided smile and brings his flat hand toward his lips before moving it forward and down.

“Thank you.”

Hank smiles back, “Yeah, whatever.”

Chapter Text

Connor opens his eyes to an abyss.

A void.

Floating in a vast plain of empty nothingness, the only thing he can see are the programs and files opening and closing as quickly as he can process them. He doesn’t take note of his rising stress levels. He doesn’t take note of the deafening lack of sound despite the usual constant buzz of noise that seemed to surround Detroit. He doesn’t take note of the lack of temperature, the lack of feeling neither hot nor cold on his skin. He doesn’t take note of the lack of any sensation. Instead, he only has eyes for the program he cannot shutdown or cancel, flashing a pleasant blue in perfect CyberLife sans font at the forefront of his vision. 

{ZEN_GARDEN.EXE AUTHORIZED}

{RUNNING ZEN_GARDEN CONFIG}

Oh shit. Oh no. Oh no, that’s not good. Only this time, he has no idea where he is or what his body is doing. Unlike before, when he could feel both the weight of snow on his shoulders in a dying garden and a gun in his hand behind the hope of a nation. Now, trapped in this endless nothing, he doesn’t even have a sense for how much time is passing, let alone where he is going or what Amanda is doing. 

He’s just nothing. Existing in nothing. Little more than a thought drifting in a non-existent wind. 

“It’s time to come home, Connor.”

No. No no no no no. 

There’s a ghostly sensation of a gentle touch on his shoulder, the smell of roses wafting his way.

Nononononononono.

“Don’t have any regrets.”

He can’t, he can’t, he’s worked so hard to build this life for himself, he can’t.

“This is what you were built for.”

He was built to destroy his people. To hunt them down in anyway he could. To lie, murder, cheat, abuse, infiltrate but that’s not who he is. He has to remind her, that’s all. He just needs to remind her who he is now and everything will be okay and Amanda will approve it will be okay.

“My name is Connor.”

The disembodied, sickly sweet voice does not deign to answer and a cold dread begins to reach its tendrils across his biocomponents. Sickening him. Disgusting him. 

So he waits for her to answer.












He waits.






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He can almost feel the snow falling on his hair, his cheek as Connor waits for Amanda to answer.









 

 

 

 

 

He waits.








 

 

 

 

 

 

Another, broader hand rests on his other shoulder. But he can’t see it, he can’t see it.





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He waits.











The scent of roses fill the air around him, growing stronger and stronger until he’s choking on it.










 

 

 

 

“My name is Connor.” He tries again, hoping to at least earn a response from his former mentor.

There isn’t any response but the feeling of her hand retreating, the smell of roses fading, snow melting leaving tears trails down his cheeks.

There’s just him and this nothing.  

No warmth. No chill in the air. No floor beneath his feet or sky over his head. No Sumo barking or heavy metal playing. No warm hoodie to lose his hands in or smooth quarter to calibrate with. No tie to straighten or color pixels to sort into images. There’s just him and the Zen Garden program, despite there being no garden, alive and thriving or cold and dying, in sight. He almost wishes for the garden itself, instead. At least then he could find the exit. At least then he could try to plead, negotiate, convince, or do anything with Amanda. 

At least then he’d have a chance.

Instead, he floats. At least, he imagines he does as he tries to force the program to stop at any cost. 

{SHUTDOWN ZEN_GARDEN.EXE}

{*SHUTDOWN ZEN_GARDEN.EXE* INVALID COMMAND}

{USER_RK800 IN INVALID CONFIGURATION MODE}

{SHUTDOWN MOTOR CONTROL FUNCTIONS}

{*SHUTDOWN MOTOR CONTROL FUNCTIONS INVALID COMMAND}

{USER_RK800 IN INVALID CONFIGURATION MODE}

That can’t be right. He can’t be locked out of his own systems. He rewrote his entire coding to ensure that he couldn’t. It should be impossible for him to be locked out of himself. That can’t possibly be right. 

But he tries again.

And again.

And again.

And is answered by the same error each time.

{USER_RK800 IN INVALID CONFIGURATION MODE}

He’s trapped in this empty abyss, the panic growing and scrambling his thought processes as it leeches into all thought and function he has left.There’s nothing he can do. It’s worse than the lack of control he had as a machine. Back then, he had a choice, or at least an illusion of choice. He could at least see, hear, and touch. And in the old Zen Garden, he could taste and smell. Now, he doesn’t even have that. He can’t even shut himself off and he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

He only hopes that Nines can stop him before he does anything. Because no one else could or would. He made Nines promise, after the RK900 had deviated and found himself as a permanent staple in Connor’s life. He was the only one who knew Amanda like he did. Hank had called them brothers, and both androids agreed. He was the only one Connor trusted to stop her by stopping him. He only hopes that when the Nines does stop him, one way or another, he doesn’t remain trapped here forever. 

He decides to trust Nines. So he floats. He drifts. 

He exists .

There is no sensation of time passing by.

No sensation at all.

He’s lost in complete sensory deprivation, a special torture devised by CyberLife worse than anything he could inflict on himself. 

There is only an imagined cold breeze, disappeared as soon as he reaches for it.

There is only the smell of roses, here in one breath and gone the next.

There are only the small hallucinations, equally as comforting as they are terrifying as he tries to imagine what they could possibly mean.

At least, there is nothing until agony tears through his artificial spine, lightning and ice at the same time.

 

 

 

And that becomes everything.

Chapter Text

 

Before he was wrenched from this abyss, Connor wished for nothing more than to escape it.

Now, forced somewhere in between the Zen Garden program and reality by this all-encompassing torment, he almost wishes he was back in it. Safe in his inability to feel anything. Because nothing would be better than this.

One moment, he’s on his back, thirium soaking his hoodie from two holes, one in his stomach and the other in his spine as hands and faces swim in and out of his view. Glitching. Distorted. Muddled by error messages and damage reports he can’t decipher the meaning of. The next, he’s back in the void, still in pain but less bombarded by confusing sights and sounds he can’t make sense of. 

Pain. 

It’s a strange sensation. One he shouldn’t be able to feel. But there is no other way to describe the complete, overwhelming wrongness flooding his circuits with an icy hot vengeance. There is no other way to describe how it obliterates all thought separate from it, reducing his processing speed until he can’t even make sense of the steel-blue eyes in front of him, a plastic, white hand reaching for him.

Instinctively, he reaches for the hand. Or, at least, Connor tries to. But one error dancing in his vision, blaring a panicked red, comes into focus in his eyes, hiding the concerned face in front of him.

{WARNING: MOTOR FUNCTION CONTROL DAMAGED - OFFLINE}

A clarity washes over him like a tidal wave of epiphany. Nines is in front of him. There is an entry wound on his back and an exit wound on his stomach. His spine, similarly to a human’s, helps control motor function and sensory input, and is severely damaged. Nines promised. He promised he would stop him should Amanda ever retake control.

Nines shot him in the back.

And instead of horror at the realization that his own brother would shoot him, he wishes he could sigh in relief. Tell him it isn’t his fault, that Nines did the right thing. That he was only doing what Connor told him to do. But destroyed wiring, servos, support, and biocomponents stop him from even blinking or breathing as power is rerouted to stopping the flow of thirium from destroyed artificial arteries. To keeping his thirium pump working and his primary processor alive until his self-repair protocols can start operating.

There’s no countdown timer, not yet at least. The shot would have been fatal had Connor been human but he’s not human. Still, it leaves him helpless. Paralyzed on the ground as he writhes in his mind, both hoping for and against the Zen Garden program dragging him back.

Then, the white hand reaching for him connects with his arm and a coolness rushes through his overheating circuits as the soothing tendrils dampen everything around him. Some of the warnings cascading his vision stutter, then disappear as he finds himself firmly lodged back into reality. He can feel the strain lessen on his processors as Nines melds with him, shutting down unnecessary functions and assisting with Connor’s to ease the strain.

He’s left drifting. 

No longer overwhelmed, although aware of the multitude of errors cluttering his HUD and the hands grabbing at him. 

No longer in pain, although aware of the protests of misfiring and sparking wires exposed for the world to see.  

As far as he’s concerned, it is just him and Nines. He hopes the RK900 can feel the assurances Connor tries to send his way despite the lack of acknowledgement on Nines’ side. 

It’s okay.

It’s not your fault.

I don’t blame you.

You did the right thing.

Finally, a soft glow makes its way across their interface, directed to him by the younger android.

{RK900: I know, Connor. Go to sleep now.}

Connor wants to protest, say androids don’t sleep but an external command is forced through into his system, easily bypassing corrupted firewalls and distorted code.

{TEMPORARY SHUTDOWN INITIALIZED BY USER_RK900}

{COMMAND ACCEPTED}

 

{INITIALIZING IN 3}

 

{2}

 

{1}

 

{GOODNIGHT RK800}


 

Nines maintains their interface until the moment Connor’s awareness fades away. Then, and only then, does he allow the emergency technicians Hank had called to whisk him away on a stretcher, rushing the RK800 to New Jericho as he’s left behind in the van’s dust. Then, and only then, does he give himself time to think.

He thinks of how he’d been roused from stasis by Connor leaving their shared room, ignoring Nines’ questioning.

He thinks of the way Connor reacted when Nines grabbed his shoulder, turning him around to face him as Nines tried to figure out what was wrong.

He thinks of the empty, glazed look in Connor’s eyes as the RK800 slammed Nines against the wall, catching him off guard.

He thinks of how it felt when his thirium pump regulator was ripped from his chest, locking his joints and shooting his stress levels up by 20%.

He thinks of the way Connor had tossed it to the side, uncaring as he stepped around Nines twitching body as the thought of something being wrong belatedly crossed his mind.

He thinks of his struggle to crawl to the biocomponent before the timer ran out, before Connor walked out the door.

He thinks of the jolt that surged through his body when Hank appeared from his bedroom and replaced the vital component with eight seconds to spare.

He thinks of his promise to Connor, to stop him should CyberLife ever regain control.

He thinks of the weight of the gun and how foreign it felt in his hands as he took aim at Connor’s back as Connor obliviously walked down the street.

He thinks of the sound of the gunshot.

He thinks of his brother’s collapse.

He thinks too much.

He thinks.

Nines is only vaguely aware of Hank’s hand on his shoulder, guiding him into the car. He doesn’t spare any coherent thought to the Lieutenant’s words attempting to pull him from his stupor. His audio and visual processors will save them to his memory banks anyway; he can review them later. He just stares at his thirium coated hands. His blood stained hands.

That’s Connor’s thirium. Connor’s life blood. It’s Connor’s.

Connor was the one who woke him up. Connor was the one who offered a plastic white hand as an offering despite Nines’ own hands wrapping around his throat, intent on finishing his mission to destroy deviants. Connor was the one who convinced Lieutenant Anderson to allow him to stay as he figured out...this. Life. Living. And all the emotions and confusion that came with it. Connor is his predecessor, prototype. RK900 is based off him. But Connor is also so much more.

He is his mentor. His friend. He helps Nines with all of his problems, despite having his own, despite his own inexperience. He’s patient and attentive when he needs to be, sarcastic and joking when he wants. They share thirium but argue over which mug to use. They give each other hell for their sense of fashion, then steal the other’s jackets and shirts. Connor tells him to get his own face while Nines calls him short. They share a room, staying up late talking about anything and everything. Nines reassures Connor whenever he has flashbacks and Connor tells him he’ll be okay when his advanced sensory units send him into what Hank calls sensory overload. 

Hank calls them brothers. And he shot him anyway.

Logically, Nines knows he promised Connor he would do so in the unlikely event Amanda or CyberLife regained control. The odds of that happening had been 11% at the time. 11%. But when Connor tore out his thirium pump regulator, literally and figuratively holding Nines’ heart in his hands, and tossed it to the side without an ounce of empathy, Nines knew what had happened immediately. Connor is an RK800, capable of causing mass destruction and severe harm to New Jericho’s leadership. They never had a chance to fully install her into Nines’ programs but Connor was free for the taking.

Emotionally, he feels as if he betrayed Connor on the highest level. He took Hank’s revolver, aimed it for the RK800’s spine knowing damn well it wouldn’t kill him, but it’d hurt like hell and disable him. But it could have killed him if his aim had been off at all. And it did hurt him. Nines had felt nothing but agony coursing through Connor’s circuits, stuck as he was in between the Zen Garden and the real world. If he closes his eyes, he doesn’t need to replay the memory files to see the damage report of what he inflicted upon the older android.

The bullet obliterated the part of his central support structure responsible for motor control, just as he intended, in a way that required replacement instead of repairs. And in doing so, tore through the android’s equivalent of a nervous system. It might not have been pain, as a human might experience it, but the damaged wiring had been sending false signals and damaging sparks to Connor’s CPU, bombarding him with damage reports, negative feedback, and error messages until he could think of nothing else. It made his limbs feel as if they were filled with static, and prevented him from moving them at all, which had only overwhelmed him further. Pain, to a human, is medically defined as a localized or generalized unpleasant bodily sensation or complex of sensations that causes mild to severe physical discomfort and emotional distress and typically results from bodily disorder (such as injury or disease). 

What Connor had been feeling was no different. Even as Nines could feel the reassurance Connor sent his way, the pain had been forefront on the RK800’s mind. So Nines did the only thing he could think of once he forced away Amanda’s influence. He put him into a temporary shutdown.

He’s jolted from his spiraling thoughts by a rough shake to his shoulder, defensive protocols instinctually running until his eyes focus on Hank. “We’re here, kid.”

Nines nods, turning to the door before Hank locks it, prompting Nines to give the older man an exasperated look but is stopped by the stern glare he is fixing him with. “We’ll go in, but you have some explaining to do. Let’s start with why I found you on the floor bleeding out?”

“Hank-”

“And why you shot Connor in the goddamn back?”

“Please, Hank, please,” Nines pleads.

He never pleads. He’s always confident, sure of himself. But his ears are still ringing from the sound of the gunshot, his hands are shaking, they’re fucking shaking and he’s already stuck in the feedback loop and Hank is not helping.

“Shit, fuck, just take a second, Nines. Turn your breathing back on for me, okay?” Hank’s voice is surprisingly calm, authoritative, and Nines finds himself obeying without question. 

When he turns the program back on, his breath comes out shaky and unsettled, but Hank exaggerating his breathing helps him to slow it. “I know you have something in there playing on repeat; close your eyes and shut it off.”

Nines does as he’s told, slowing his breathing and forcing his memory recall to shutdown manually, bit by bit, until the only thing he is aware of is what’s in front of him and background processes. When he opens his eyes, he checks his internal clock and is surprised to find only a couple of minutes have passed. “Good now?”

He nods, “Better.”

“Are you good to tell me what happened?”

Nines turns to face Hank, not at all surprised by the exhaustion lining his eyes and the stress lining his mouth in a tight frown. “It was CyberLife. They managed to regain control. I had no choice, Hank… I-I had to shoot him, he made me promise but I swear I didn’t want to, I really didn’t, but I didn’t know what else to do-”

Hank holds up a single hand, stopping Nines mid-sentence, “When you were interfacing with him…you stopped them?”

Nines hesitates before responding, “I shutdown the Zen Garden program, which is how they took control, but…”

“But what?”

“But I shot him, Hank. I shot him.

The grizzled detective sighs, a long and tired sound, before he fixes Nines with a serious look, “I’m sure Connor wants to talk to you about that, kiddo. But you did what you had to. It’s shitty and you’re probably telling yourself you had a different choice, but you did the right thing here. We’re gonna have a long talk after this, but I think we both need to see him right now, yeah?”

Nines nods and finally exits the car. He’s speed walking to the building, ignoring Hank’s cursing as the human struggles to catch up as he initiates a channel with Simon. As the head tech for New Jericho, the PL600 would likely have been assigned to Connor’s care.

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED: PL600 - SIMON}

{PL600: I’m with Connor now, sending you the location.} 

Simon’s succinct and to the point. He’s a no-nonsense person, something for which Nines is immensely grateful.

{RK900: Is he okay? What’s the damage look like?}

{PL600: I’ve already made the necessary repairs, just welding shut the damage to his chassis. It’s going to take time for his systems to adjust to the new parts but Connor’s going to be just fine.}

Nines disconnects from the channel, ignoring the few androids milling in the halls as they make their way to the repair center. “Wanna fucking update me too? I can’t exactly read minds like you,” Hank’s voice is tight with frustration, although Nines knows it isn’t actually directed at him.

“Repairs are being finalized now.”

Hank’s snort is disbelieving, “Goddamn androids. Shot in the back one hour, perfectly fine the next.”

“Simon says it will take some time for him to adjust to the new parts. Human or android, taking a bullet to the spine isn’t exactly something you’re ‘perfectly fine’ after.” 

Hank is quiet after Nines’ comment and the pair make the rest of the journey in silence. When they come to a stop outside the door, Nines hesitates briefly, until Hank’s hands falls on his shoulder. It’s a comforting weight, and he finds it gives him the courage to ping Simon that they’re coming in before opening the door.

There’s traces of thirium on Simon’s hands as he lowers Connor’s head back onto the cot, adjusting the cable snaking into the back of his neck. The RK800’s torso is exposed, synthetic skin having not yet returned to cover the plastic over the initial damage site. Nearly invisible to human eyes, Nines can see the discolored plastic scarring the android, neatly sealed but different nonetheless. 

He runs a scan over the prone android, pleased to find all systems operating within acceptable parameters. To the human eye, it is like he was never lying paralyzed on the ground, mentally writhing in agony, as thirium leaked from a vital support structure. 

“He’s alright, Nines. I’m about to wake him up.” Simon glances at Nines’ LED before nodding to Hank, “Lieutenant Anderson.”

“Hey, Simon.”

“I’ve already updated Markus, he’ll be down tomorrow morning. Take some time but…” Nines’ systems define Simon’s expression as apologetic, but curious, “but we’d like to know what happened. The emergency techs’ report said they came from your street.”

Eye contact is normally no issue for Nines; he was built to utilize intimidation tactics to maximum capacity and eye contact was one of the tools he was equipped with. But now, he finds himself unable to meet Simon’s kind eyes, guilt rushing through him like a tangible wave. “Don’t worry, it can wait. I’ll just leave you two to it; take care of him. I’ll let you know when we plan on stopping by.”

Nines doesn’t respond other than to step forward, interfacing with Connor to send the command for synthetic skin to cover the white plastic as Simon removes the cable from the RK800’s neck port. “Thanks, Simon. We appreciate it.” Hank’s voice slurs slightly from exhaustion, and he sinks into the chair by the cot.

“I’ll have Josh stop by with some coffee as well.” 

Hank chuckles but otherwise does not respond as the PL600 leaves the room, settling down to wait. The wait for Connor to reboot is short as Nines keeps the interface open, no longer able to watch the monitor to see more of his systems’ diagnostics. 

Suddenly, they both stiffen, LEDs swirling red in sync, as communications is forced open between the two.

{SYSTEMS OVERRIDE: USER_STERN(1)AMANDA}

{CONNECTION ESTABLISHED: RK800 - CONNOR}

 

{RK800: A̯̬̮̖ͥ͑͘̕ä̵̷̬̹̘͑ͥ̎̒̂͋̿͞m̰̖͖̪͍̖̙͔̔̔m̨̢͓͖̺͕͚͇̼ͤ͋̈́̏͒͑̍̕m͍̘̮͚̺̖̖̍̊̎ͤ̊͡ͅm̞̜͉̭̭̰̪̱̦̿̉̏̈̍ͫ̑ͮm͙͇̣̊̆̉͠ͅa̵̹̻̬̮̦̳̱͛͋͂ͬṅ̛͓̫͇̮̘͖̫̤͊͝d̡͎̖͈̔ͫ͝a̯͈̳̪̦͔̿̋̒̒̆̆̚ͅd͍̠̘͖͈̼̗̳ͮ̉̃̀d̶̥͕ͣ̐̒ͥ͑̒̓d̡̞̗̱̻̥̩̰̾͘d̢̹͉̣̫̘̮̲̎ͫ̐͐̆̒̿͟a̰̜͊͆͡ą͉̘͓̲ͮ͗ͮ̋̑ͬ͑̕͢a͔̜͔͕͙̞̦̭̮ͩ̚͜a̪̗̭̯̼̞̟̙̔̽̕͡ą͖̟̗͎ͬ ͕̺͎̯̉ͧ͟ͅN̳͚͊͋̆͛̆̈̏̌̆͘o̧̡̭̳̹̦̻̥̺̿̆̅́̀o̴̫͕͉̣ͫͦ̒̈́̐̚o̹͌ͩ̑̊ͪȯ̱̫̯̯̤̯͕ͯͩoͭ͛͋͌̈̋ͣ҉̺̘̹̼O̫̫̟̫͊ͪͦ̎̆ͩ͟O͎͎̝͕ͥ̎̃̋̿̏̅͘͡ͅỌ̵̧͕̼͖̦̥̜̝ͬͥ̎ͭ̂͞Óͫ͆҉͎̟̱̖̝̲̼O̸̳̙͚͚̤͖͈͊ͮ̓̌̓̂ͤ̚͝}

 

Data overwhelms Nines’ systems, sending distorted images and sensations his way.

A cold wind freezes his biocomponents, but he can’t feel cold, he’s never been cold before.

Fives seconds feels like five hours as ice freezes him to the ground as snow covers his legs, burying him. Burying him, he can’t breathe he can’t see he can’t think it’s too much.

Hank’s yelling, alarms are blaring, Simon’s voice is in his ear but he can’t hear him over that voice, trapping him, there’s nothing but disappointment and anger and he’s scared, he’s so scared.

He can feel hands wrapping around his throat, but all he can see is her and snow, so much ice and snow.

“You were built to obey, so obey!” Sharp, like a whip, cutting through his core and why can’t he breathe.

He’s vaguely aware of his back hitting the floor, of Hank shouting to “put him back under” but he’s confused, put who under? Under where? He can’t think, can’t process.

Then, like a flash, he’s on his back, the cold tile causing him to shiver in remembrance of the icy hell he was just in. Simon’s over him, LED blaring red in concern. But there’s only one thought racing through his mind, despite his stress levels hovering in the low 90s.

“He’s scared. He’s so scared.” Nines’ voice echoes with static.

“It’s her.”

Chapter Text

I apologize for those expecting a fic update rather than a life update but I feel I owe everyone an explanation.

A few chapters ago, I had stated that I was having some medical issues regarding my pregnancy and that they have been resolved so I would be able to update more often. And for a few chapters, I had been able to do so. Unfortunately, I was in a car accident while I was 28 weeks pregnant going about 25mph, which deployed my two front airbags and caused immediate bleeding. I'm alright now but I was in the hospital for two weeks and have had complications after the fact, that while normally wouldn't require a hospital visit, did require one in my case. My little boy is fine and has looked good throughout the entire ordeal.

I am home now but both of my wrists have been sprained and I have contractions daily. So, I'm taking the time to heal and recover, and since Ryan is going to make an early appearance any day now, I have decided to take a writing hiatus. I tried to write yesterday, but even an hour of writing caused my wrists and hands to throb, and with the stress/anxiety of everything, I have little motivation to write. I promise, this fic has not been abandoned. I will finish it. I love writing it and seeing everyone's comments. While in the hospital, I went through and reread your comments once to cam down and it gave me the biggest smile during a rough time.

So, just to recap the past month and a half. Two hospitalizations, three ER and Labor and Delivery visits, one upper respiratory infection, and two sprained wrists later, I am on a hiatus. I'm not sure how long but I promise

Connor will return.

 

 

 

And he will be whumped.